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2021: Wave Of Harmful State-Level Legislation Targeting Transgender Students

Ashley Underwood, Research Associate | Fact Sheets

Background 

In the summer of 2020, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) revealed its latest attempt to codify transphobia when it announced its federal lawsuit against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC). ADF represented parents of cisgender female students who were against CIAC’s inclusive policy that rightfully permits transgender student-athletes to participate on teams aligned with their gender identities. This federal challenge sparked a wave of transphobic state-level legislation which similarly sought to prohibit transgender student-athletes from participating on sports teams aligned with their gender identities

Additionally, these sports-focused bans have coincided with an introduction of state-level legislation seeking to restrict transgender communities’ access to healthcare — with an acute focus on minors’ access to gender-affirming therapy. As the Human Rights Campaign has noted, this year concerningly marks the highest number of anti-transgender bills in history. Thus far, there have been more than 80 anti-transgender bills introduced in the 2021 legislative session, many of which are the result of coordinated efforts led by national anti-LGBTQ hate groups, including ADF and Family Watch International

States Jeopardizing The Wellbeing Of Transgender Youth

Alabama: The Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, introduced as companion bills HB 1 and SB 10, belies its name. This bill would prohibit medical providers from providing gender-affirming medical care for minors and require school officials to disclose sensitive information students may share with trusted adults regarding their gender identities and expression. 

Status: As of March 19, 2021, SB10 was approved 23–4 and is on its way to the House of Representatives. HB1 passed out of the Judiciary committee and is awaiting floor action. 

Arkansas: HB 1570, “Create The Arkansas Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act,” characterizes gender-affirming therapy as experimentation and grossly incorporates unfounded scientific claims that transgender youth are confused, that being transgender is a mental health disorder, and that gender-affirming therapy results in mental health crises and suicides. It also describes medical providers’ referrals for gender-afforming care as “unprofessional conduct subject to discipline,” thus jeopardizing the livelihoods of healthcare workers who wish to provide inclusive care. SB 354, “Create The Fairness In Women’s Sports Acts,” targets transgender women and girls who are student-athletes and seeks to exclude them from women’s and girls’ sports. 

Status: As of April 7, 2021 Arkansas legislature voted to overturn Gov. Hutchinson's veto. On March 25, 2021 SB354 was signed into law.

Connecticut: SB 324, if passed, would provide civil immunity for sports organizations and private youth organizations that enact discriminatory policies requiring transgender student-athletes to participate on teams misaligned with their gender identity. 

Status: As of March 19, 2021, the bill has been referred to the Joint Committee on Judiciary. 

Florida: HB 0935 would criminalize healthcare professionals for providing transgender minors with gender-affirming healthcare. HB 1475, “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” would require the exclusion of transgender women and girls who are student-athletes from women’s and girls’ sports teams.

Status: As of March 19, 2021, H0935 is in committee, and HB1475 was passed out of committee. 

Georgia: SB 266, “Save Girls Sports Act,” makes it illegal for public and private schools to grant participation rights for transgender girls to play with their peers on interscholastic and intramural athletic teams. It also grants special rights, such as the reward of attorney fees, to parents of cisgender girl students who wish to enforce the discriminatory policy through legal action.

Status: As of March 19, 2021, the bill has passed out of committee and is awaiting a floor vote.

Kansas: SB 208 specifically seeks to exclude transgender women and girls who are student-athletes from participating on women’s and girls’ sports teams. 

Status: As of March 19, 2021, the bill has been approved by a Senate vote of 24–10 and has been introduced to the House. 

Kentucky: Language in the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” SB 106, and its companion bill HB 471 misgenders transgender girls and (1) calls for promulgation of biased and discriminatory policies against trans student-athletes, (2) prohibits complaints and investigations of such policies, (3) mandates sanctions for schools which choose inclusivity and, (4) calls for a new policy to be created for public and private institutes of higher learning to mandate all intercollegiate and intramural sports teams to enact similarly biased and discriminatory policies without room for investigations and complaints. 

Status: As of March 19, 2021, SB 106 is in committee. HB 471 is also in committee.

Maine: LD926 misgenders transgender girls and prohibits their participation in girls’ sports at all levels of education. 

Status: As of March 19, 2021, the bill is in committee.

Michigan: SB 218 would require that public schools adopt and enforce a discriminatory policy that defines sex assigned at birth as the only consideration for participation on sports teams. It would specifically prohibit transgender student-athletes from participating on teams aligned with their gender identity. 

Status: As of March 19, 2021, it is in committee.

Minnesota: HF 1657 misgenders transgender women and girls who are student-athletes and prohibits them from participating on women’s and girls’ sports teams and from using cisgender female-designated changing facilities. It goes one step further by seeking to charge transgender students who participate on women’s and girls’ sports teams with petty misdemeanors.

Status: As of March 19, 2021, no moving action has been made. 

Mississippi: On March 11, Governor Tate signed into law SB2536, the “Mississippi Fairness Act.” This bill requires school-based teams under the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) to designate athletic teams according to “biological sex” — which can be assumed to mean the gender assigned at birth — and to provide special protection for schools which maintain separate athletic teams for cisgender women and girls. 

Status: Signed into law. 

Missouri: HB 1045 would require transgender student-athletes wishing to play on a school’s official sports team to do so on teams misaligned with their gender identity. In a weak attempt at inclusivity, it permits transgender students to participate in extramural sports teams (as opposed to the official teams) that are aligned with their gender identity. HB 33 seeks to remove professional licenses from healthcare providers and report parents/guardians to child protective services for providing and/or permitting gender-affirming care for transgender youth. House Joint Resolution 53 seeks to amend the state’s constitution to include language which excludes transgender girls from participating on girls’ sports teams. 

Status: As of March 19, 2021, HB 1045 is in committee, HB 33 has received public hearing and action has been postponed on HJR 53. 

Montana: HB 112 would mandate transgender student-athletes to participate on sports teams not aligned with their gender, and HB 427 would prohibit gender-affirming surgical care, without restrictions for nonsurgical gender-affirming therapy such as puberty blockers. 

Status: As of March 19, 2021, HB 112 was approved 61–38 and sent to the Senate, where it has passed out of the Judiciary Committee. HB 427 was approved 60–38 and sent to the Senate, where it has passed out of the Judiciary Committee. 

New Hampshire: HB 198 is “an act relative to an exception to the opportunity for public education without discrimination” that specifically seeks to exclude transgender girls who are student-athletes from anti-discrimination clauses set to protect students within public schools. On March 16, the bill was retained, meaning it won’t pass this year but has the possibility to do so next year.

Status: As of March 19, 2021, it has been retained in committee. 

North Carolina: HB 358, “Save Women’s Sports Act,” calls for all public middle and high school athletic teams to be organized based on sex assigned at birth and specifically targets transgender girls. North Carolina is the 30th state to introduce a “Save Women’s Sports” Act. 

Status: This bill was introduced on March 23, 2021.

North Dakota: Rep. Ben Koppelman (R-West Fargo) and Sen. Janne Myrdal (R-Edinburg) co-sponsored HB 1298, which would bar trans athletes from competing on teams that align with their gender identity. Koppelman is a policymaker signatory on the Promise to America’s Children, a national coalition led by several prominent anti-trans organizations, including Alliance to Defend Freedom. Edinburg is the previous director of North Dakota’s chapter of Concerned Women for America. 

Status: As of March 19, 2021, it was approved 65–26 and sent to the Senate, where it has been referred to the Judiciary Committee. 

Oklahoma: SB 676 would make it a felony to provide gender-affirming healthcare to anyone younger than 21. 

Status: As of March 19, 2021, it was referred to committees, but no movement has been made. 

South Carolina: HB 4047 would prohibit transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming medical care and force school officials to essentially “out” transgender students to their parents.

Status: As of March 19, 2021, it was referred to the Judiciary committee, but no additional movement has been made. 

South Dakota: The South Dakota legislature passed HB 1217, which would “require student-athletes across the state to sign a document stating their biological sex” and specifically targets transgender girl student-athletes. 

Status: As of March 10, 2021, it was passed by the House and Senate and delivered to the Governor for signature.

Tennessee: HB 0003 and its companion bill SB 0228 would require middle and high school-aged public school transgender student-athletes to participate on sports teams misaligned with their gender identity. 

Status: As of March 19, 2021, HB 0003 is awaiting full floor vote. SB 0228 was signed into law by Governor Bill Lee on 3/26/21. 

Texas: HB 1458 and HB 4042 requires school sports teams to be organized based on gender assigned at birth. SB 1148 prohibits transgender minors from correcting their birth certificates to reflect their accurate gender identity. HB 3455 seeks to mandate both gender segregation and discrimination in public school sports teams. SB 1646 and its companion bill HB 4014 seeks to codify parents’ and guardians’ provision of gender-affirming care as child abuse. 

Status: As of March 19, 2021, HB 1458 is in committee, and HB 4042 and HB 3455 have only been filed. HB 4014 and its companion SB 1646 have been filed, but no additional movement has been made. SB 1148 is in committee. 

Utah: HB 302 mandates that schools “designate athletic activities by biological sex” and specifically excludes transgender girls who are student-athletes from competing with their peers. The bill also prohibits complaints and investigations into this discriminatory policy.

Status: As of March 19, 2021, HB 302 was approved 50–23–2 but did not pass the Senate Rules Committee, so it was sent back to the House and filed as “not passed.” Although it never reached his desk, Utah’s Governor made it clear that he would not sign the bill as it was written.

West Virginia: HB 2676 seeks to classify participation of K–12 school-based sports events according to gender assigned at birth.

Status: As of March 19, 2021, it is in committee.

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