116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Transgender girls and women would no longer be allowed to play sports at Iowa schools, colleges and universities with other girls and women under a proposal that is one step from becoming law.
Having passed the Republican-led Iowa Legislature Wednesday, the bill needs only Gov. Kim Reynolds’ signature to become law.
Reynolds’ spokesman did not immediately respond Wednesday on whether she plans to sign the legislation into law. She has previously indicated support for the proposal.
Iowa would become the 11th state to ban transgender athletes from participating in athletics with other athletes of the gender with which they identify, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit think tank that researches state policies.
The legislation passed through the Iowa House and Senate with only Republican support. Statehouse Republicans said the legislation is a matter of ensuring fairness in girls’ and women’s athletics.
“Fairness and equality are not the same thing,” said Sen. Tim Goodwin, a Republican from Burlington. “This bill is about fairness.”
Democrats argued, as have advocates for LGBTQ people, that the examples of transgender girls dominating girls’ sports are rare, and that these types of proposals can create a feeling of exclusion to LGBTQ people.
Zach Wahls, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate from Coralville, said reasonable people can address the potential issues of fairness regarding transgender girls competing in girls’ sports. He said the proposed legislation does not accomplish that goal.
“The bill we are debating today is not reasonable,” Wahls said during debate. “This bill is a political wedge being used to divide us. It does not have to be this way.”
Wahls also noted many schools have already dealt with the issue on a local level.
The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, which governs interscholastic girls high school competition in Iowa, has a transgender policy in place that allows transgender girls to compete in girls’ sports.
Jean Berger, executive director of the IGHSAU, on multiple occasions declined to respond to questions about the proposed legislation.
Critics of the bill, House File 2416, also noted it will place Iowa schools in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between complying with state and federal law, and warned that it will face a legal challenge that could be costly to the state.
“This bill discriminates against students and singles out school employees and faculty for punishment,” Mike Beranek, president of the Iowa State Education Association, the statewide public educators union, said in a statement. “It is a hateful attempt to intimidate both students and the education professionals helping them succeed.”
Similar bans in other states have led to legal challenges that have at least temporarily prevented the laws from being implemented until the courts rule.
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