If you’ve followed the absolute onslaught of anti-trans bills cropping up around the nation, you’ve likely noticed the enormous new emphasis on keeping trans girls out of sports. While many of these bills come with titles suggesting the Republican mission is about protecting “women and girls” in athletics, the reality is that these bills are discriminatory, exclusionary, and hateful.
Trans girls are girls, and they belong on girls’ sports teams. In addition, when pressed, many Republican lawmakers struggle to cite specific examples of trans girl athletes actually causing any sort of issue, instead saying they’ve heard concerns from parents or coaches about potential problems. Basically, Republicans are stoking anti-trans hysteria and turning a nonissue into a rallying cry.
Louisiana’s bill was about the same as others, including those that have actually passed, like Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Republican Sen. Beth Mizell sponsored the ban in Louisiana, which would have kept trans girls in kindergarten through twelfth grade, as well as in college, out of girls’ sports. The name of Senate Bill 156, like many others, was misleadingly called the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.”
As we know, trans and nonbinary youth face higher rates of bullying, harassment, and mental health struggles in school. We also know that participating in sports is a common way for kids and teenagers to make friends, develop interpersonal skills, and get exercise. Keeping a population that already faces a greater risk of being isolated and bullied from activities that could foster friendships and camaraderie is (in addition, obviously, to being discriminatory and unjust) cruel.
Trans youth playing sports is not a problem. It’s especially not a problem any lawmakers can actually point to in the state of Louisiana because the Louisiana High School Athletic Association essentially already bans openly trans high schoolers from participating in sports, as reported by ABC News.
Democratic Rep. Royce Duplessis of New Orleans agreed with Edwards’ argument that the state would suffer economically if the bill passed, describing the Republican effort as “symbolic legislation that solves no real problems,” as reported by The Advocate. Duplessis added that SB 156 was inherently discriminatory as well.
“You either want business to come to Louisiana or you want to discriminate,” Democratic Sen. Karen Carter-Peterson said on the same track as Edwards and Duplessis, according to local outlet 4WWL. “We’re about to make a decision.” The decision to discriminate or not should never be hard to make, but for far too many Republicans, it seems to be a serious struggle.