An Alabama lawmaker and congressional candidate wants to make sure transgender student athletes don’t compete against athletes of “a different biological gender.”
Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, was expected to file this week the “Gender is Real Legislation,” or GIRL bill.
“There is a biological difference between boys and girls,” said Pringle, who is running for the south Alabama U.S. House seat currently held by Bradley Byrne. “The intention is just to ensure fair competition between student athletes.
“… I’m not trying to discriminate against transgender athletes who want to compete in sports. They just have to compete like anyone else according to the the gender on their birth certificate.”
The Alabama High School Athletic Association already has a similar policy that participation in athletics should be determined by the gender on the student-athlete’s birth certificate. That policy is based on the Alabama State Department of Education policy for school enrollment, according to AHSAA.
The term transgender describes individuals whose gender identity does not match their sex at birth.
The website transathlete.com lists Alabama as a “discriminatory” state where a trans athlete has little chance of participating in sports while in school.
It lists 17 states that allow trans athletes to compete based on their gender identity without requiring they take hormones or have surgery.
Florida’s student athletic association, for example, says, “All eligible students should have the opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletics in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity and expression, irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s birth certificate and/or records.”
Last year, the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation, which stages national student-athlete events, developed a policy for transgender athletes. Pre-pubescent transgender girls are eligible for NSAF competitions based on their affirmed gender. Post-pubescent transgender girls are eligible for NSAF competitions based on their affirmed gender once they have completed a year’s course of gender-affirming hormones. Gender-affirming surgery may also satisfy the policy requirements but is not required.
If Pringle’s bill became law in Alabama, it would go further than the current AHSAA policy.
A draft of the bill says a public K-12 school may not participate in, sponsor, or provide coaching staff for interscholastic athletic events with any athletic association that permits or allows participation in athletic events conducted exclusively for males by any individual who is not a biological male or participation in athletic events conducted exclusively for females by any individual who is not a biological female.
The bill goes on to say the state or a county, municipality or other government entities can’t use public facilities for “athletic competitions in which any individual who is not a biological male is allowed to participate in athletic events conducted exclusively for males or any person who is not a biological female is allowed to participate in athletic events conducted exclusively for females.”
There are exceptions for co-ed sports and events.
“I’m not worried about a girl who wants to kick a ball on the boys’ football team, but we need a universally fair policy, and that’s what this bill seeks to achieve,” Pringle said.
Another K-12-related bill has been filed by Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa. Senate Bill 13 requires local K-12 public schools to play or have performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at school-sanctioned sporting events and at least once per week at each school.
“It’s important for us to make sure our children know the importance of the national anthem and love and embrace our country,” Allen said this week.
“If you listen to the national anthem, it lays out a beautiful story about America,” he said about the song that was originally a poem by Francis Scott Key, written during the War of 1812.
Allen said he wants the anthem played in schools as well as at sporting events so that all students hear it. He said he hopes it will instill a sense of pride in them.
“The world is changing daily … there are countries that would love to see this country go away,” Allen said.
The legislative session starts Feb. 4.