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A bill that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ athletic teams was approved by the House Education Committee on Monday on a party-line vote.
HF 2309 would require any Iowa schools that get public funding to designate sports programs as one of the following: open to biological females, open to biological males or coeducational.
The bill came to the Legislature from Iowans “who are concerned that women’s sports may be under threat,” Rep. Skyler Wheeler, R-Orange City. He’s aware of at least a half dozen cases in Iowa of transgender athletes competing in girls’ sports.
“There are girls being harmed because we have not stepped up and said, ‘You know what biological girls? We created Title IX, we created girls’ sport so girls had a level and equal playing field,’” Wheeler said.
Opponents called it an attack on transgender students, who, they say, face increased risk of depression, anxiety and suicide and just want to play on a team that matches their gender identities.
The bill, Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, said, discriminates on the basis of a child’s gender identity.
“If we harm one, we harm all,” she said. “No child should face state-sanctioned bullying.”
She cited U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch opinion that discrimination based sex or gender identity is unconstitutional. An Idaho law similar to what’s being proposed has been struck down by a federal court, Mascher said.
“It is our job to treat them equally and fairly. The people were’ talking about are our children,” Mascher said.
The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.
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