Defend Their Platform: State Legislative Brief [March 2021]

A core part of Midnight Iron’s coverage of the debate over transgender women participating in women’s sport will be the State Legislative Brief. Using the work of Save Women’s Sports as a baseline, we will run though every known bill in the various State legislatures, and close with a quick word on the Federal Equality Act.

The first episode of the SLB will be a state-by-state rundown of current bills. Future episodes will organize the bills into categories; specifically which states have moved forward, which ones haven’t, and which states’ bills are dead for the session. All bills will contain hyperlinks to the State Legislature’s official database, because we believe in primary sources around here.

With that, let us begin. This is the State Legislative Brief for March 2021.

1.) State’s Fights. First off, a check on state-level bills, with help from Save Women’s Sports.

ALABAMA:
House Bill 391

This one appears to have moved to the full House after a favorable vote from the Education committee.

ARIZONA:
Senate Bill 1637 Motionless. Introduced 01FEB.

ARKANSAS:
Senate Joint Resolution 16 Moving everywhere. Withdrawn from a committee to be amended, and the ammended version is currently with the Senate’s Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs. (In case you’re wondering, it’s because the Resolution involves any athletic teams sponsored by a public school.)

Senate Bill 354: Referred to Education Committee. Both this and SJR16 deal with barring transgender women (which is to say, biological men) from participating in women’s sport. But between the two, this one seems to include private schools as well. (Section 2: “”School” includes a private educational institution whose interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams or sports compete against a public school.”)

CONNECTICUT:
Senate Bill 324: Referred to the Joint Committee on Judiciary. This bill provides civil immunity for any athletic organization that require a person to compete in on a team that “matches the gender identity on his or her birth certificate.” In other words, it is not a full ban on anything, but it says that an organization that decides not to allow men in the women’s division (or vice versa) cannot be sued for it.

GEORGIA:
House Bill 276: Currently in the Education Committee. This bill appears to be a ban on allowing anybody who is male competing in “an athletic program that is designated for females.” This would extend to public and private schools, plus the University System of Georgia (think UGA, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, etc.).

House Bill 372: Also with the House Education Committee. A bill to legally define “gender” among other things.

Senate Bill 266: Senate Education and Youth Committee. More or less the Senate’s take on HB276.

By the way, a quirk in the Georgia system is something called Crossover Day. As Georgia is a part-time legislature, there comes a point, midway through the session, where both chambers focus on bills that made it through the other body. Put more bluntly, on 08MAR, any bill that started in one chamber and was never voted out is declared dead for the session. For any of these bills to succeed, they need to move now.

HAWAII:
House Bill 1304: Referred to Education Committee. Description is pleasingly straightforward: “Prohibits biologically born males from competing in any athletic program offered by a public high school that is designated for women or girls.”

IOWA:
House File 184: Introduced, referred to Education. A bill whose rough-to-read cover file suggests that it is similar to the Hawaii bill.

House File 334:: Introduced. Referred to Education. These appear to be almost identical.

KANSAS:
Senate Bill 208: In Committee on Education, hearing 23FEB. This bill ensures that the women’s divisions in public schools “only include members who are biologically female.”

KENTUCKY:
Senate Bill 106: Introduced. Requires student athletic events to be divided by biological sex, “prohibit designated agencies from entertaining complaints or investigations of policies; create a cause of action against a school that violates these provisions,” and many, many other things. This is a VERY comprehensive bill.

House Bill 471: Introduced. The House version of SB106.

MINNESOTA:
SF 96: Introduced, referred to Education and Finance Policy Committee. Labeled as “high school league member public schools separate teams provision violation clarification.”

HF 352 Introduced, sent to Education Policy Committee. The description reads “female student sport team participation restricted to the female sex.”

HF 350: Introduced, sent to Education Policy Committee. “Student participation in athletic teams restricted.” This one seems to be a slightly more restrictive version of HF 352.

MISSISSIPPI:
Senate Bill 2536: Passed out of the Seante, referred to House Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee.

Also, note the use of Comic Sans. You can find quirky stuff in any State.

MISSOURI:
Just try and stay with me on this. There’s a LOT to go over.
Tackling the House bills, in numerical order.

House Joint Resolution 53 and House Bill 1045 and House Bill 1077: Referred to Emerging Issues Committee. Establishes “guidelines” for public school athletic competitions, organized by biological sex.

Both appear identical.

Senate Bill 503: First Reading. Requires that “no athletic team or sport designated for females, women, or girls shall be open to students of the male sex, as assigned at birth,” and that no government agency can take action against a school that keeps to separate divisions for men’s and women’s sport.

MONTANA:
House Bill 112: Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee. “Require interscholastic athletes to participate under sex assigned at birth.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE:
House Bill 198: Referred to Senate Education Committee. Bars men from being in all-female athletics.

NEW MEXICO:
House Bill 304: Referred to House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee. Requires schools to “prohibit male participation on female athletic teams; prohibiting adverse action against schools complying with the Women’s Sports Protection Act.”

NORTH DAKOTA:
House Bill 1298: With the House Human Services Committee. The bill aims for “Athletic events exclusively for males or exclusively for females.”

OHIO:
House Bill 61: Refer to Primary and Secondary Education Committee. Requires schools, and both public and private colleges to designate separate teams for each sex.

OKLAHOMA:
House Bill 3477: Referred to Judiciary Committee: The House version of the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” alongside Senate Bill 531, which is the Senate version.

SOUTH DAKOTA:
House Bill 1217: Passed the House, scheduled for hearing 03MAR in the Senate. The title is “promote continued fairness in women’s sports.”

TENNESSEE:
House Bill 3, Senate Bill 228: Senate Bill 228 passed, and was sent to the House. The House version appears to have been referred to the Calendar and Rules Committee.

TEXAS:
House Bill 1458: Filed.

UTAH:
House Bill 302: Passed House, currently with the Rules Committee.

WEST VIRIGINA:
House Bill 2734 and House Bill 2141: Both referred to House Education committee.

2.) Congress. All of that is happening against the backdrop of the federal Equality Act, which was basically in stasis until the start of the post-2020 election Congress. That bill passed the House on 25FEB, and is listed on Congress’ official database as with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Three Republicans joined Democrats in getting the bill through the House, though its future in the Senate remains unclear.

3.) Stil ahead: Taking a broader look at the legal issues, we have the USAPL/Gender Justice lawsuit, as well as the lawsuit in Connecticut being spear-headed by the group Alliance Defending Freedom.

There is no guarantee that all, or even most, of these bills will pass. The purpose of this monthly update is simply to track both the State- and Federal-level bills in regards to women’s sport. The SLB is a regular checkpoint in the fight to defend their platform.

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