On Monday, April 5, 2021, five Republican Pennsylvania State Representatives will lead a press conference promoting their introduction of a dangerous bill targeting transgender children. The legislation would ban trans children from school sports. The bill would have school officials charged with grading a student’s sex in order to play sports, through genital exams or blood work.
The legislation is called the “Protect Women’s Sports Act” but is in fact making women less safe by using the power of the state to perpetuate unfounded gender stereotypes and to subject girls to invasive monitoring. The stated goal of the bill is to explicitly exclude the participation of students who are transgender from all public school athletic programs.
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) issued a policy on trans participation in 2014 and there have been no outcry of concerns. Instead, this legislation is part of a nationally-coordinated campaign from anti-LGBTQ organizations seeking to target vulnerable young people because they do not understand them, do not want to provide inclusion for LGBTQ people, or to distract. The proponents of these bills want to exploit the lack of education on transgender youth to justify discrimination against trans and LGBTQ people in all aspects of public life.
Pennsylvania Youth Congress State Policy Associate Preston Heldibridle said, “Trans youth deserve inclusion and respect. Enough with taking cheap political points at the expense of the very lives of trans youth. We are your children, students, and community members, not the boogeyman. Talk with us. Please take the time to learn about why this exclusionary bill is so hurtful and damaging – and far removed from the reality of school athletics in Pennsylvania.”
Further, he shared, “The truth is that Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections and want us to continue moving our commonwealth forward to be more inclusive. PIAA already has a policy on gender participation and this bill undermines their authority. Trans students have been playing sports in Pennsylvania for years with no issues whatsoever. There are countless examples of trans students playing school sports without any issues and full affirmation by other athletes.”
The science on sex and gender diversity has long been known and was centered in a hearing held by the House Health Committee last year. Doctors from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Penn State Health explained that sex is not binary and includes multiple characteristics, such as chromosomes, genitalia, and hormones. There is a massive amount of human diversity in those attributes.
Jason Landau Goodman, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, said, “In the 1990s it was about banning gay gym teachers, and in the 2020s it’s about banning trans students from athletic opportunities. This kind of discrimination should have no place in public schools. We want more students to play coming out of the pandemic, not less.”