Republican lawmakers in Utah on Friday pushed through a ban on transgender youth athletes playing on girls teams.
Utah now joins 11 other states with similar laws amid a nationwide culture war.
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Lawmakers argue that without legal intervention more transgender athletes, with possible physical advantages, could eventually dominate the field and change the nature of women´s sports.
The ban had previously received support from a majority of Utah lawmakers, but fell short of the two-thirds needed to override it.
The Mail Online reports: Its sponsors on Friday flipped 10 Republicans in the House and five in the Senate who had previously voted against the proposal.
A dozen states now have some sort of ban on transgender kids in school sports. Utah’s law takes effect July 1.
Republican sponsor Rep. Kera Birkeland, who is also a basketball coach, welcomed the decision and said conversations with female student athletes compelled her to act.
‘When we say, `This isn´t a problem in our state,´ what we say to those girls is, `Sit down, be quiet and make nice,” she said.
Lawmakers anticipate court challenges similar to blocked bans in Idaho and West Virginia, where athletes have said the policies violate their civil rights. They´ve argued the bans violate their privacy rights, due to tests required if an athlete´s gender is challenged. The ACLU of Utah said on Friday that a lawsuit was inevitable.
The bill overrides a veto letter from Gov. Spencer Cox, who stalled the bill after he argued it would target vulnerable transgender kids already at high suicide risk.
Cox was the second GOP governor this week to overrule lawmakers on a sports-participation ban, but the proposal won support from a vocal conservative base that has particular sway in Utah´s state primary season. Even with those contests looming, however, some Republicans stood with Cox to reject the ban.
‘I cannot support this bill. I cannot support the veto override and if it costs me my seat so be it. I will do the right thing, as I always do,’ said Republican Sen. Daniel Thatcher.
Business leaders also sounded the alarm that the ban could have a multimillion-dollar economic impact on Utah, including the possible loss of the NBA All-Star Game next year. The Utah Jazz called the ban ‘discriminatory legislation’ and opposed it.
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