BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Louisiana is one step closer to banning trans female athletes from participating in high school and collegiate sports after a majority of the Senate voted Tuesday in favor of the proposed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.
SB44 was introduced during the regular legislative session by state Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton. Mizell introduced a similar bill that passed but was vetoed by Governor John Bel Edwards last year.
The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act would require schools to designate athletic eligibility and participation according to biological sex and ensure that teams set for female athletes are not open to participation by biological males.
The bill cites Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, an anti-discrimination measure that opened athletic opportunities to women in sports. The 1972 act highlights “inherent differences between men and women” and says that these differences should be celebrated but should not diminish either gender or place “artificial constraints” on an individual’s opportunity to participate in sports.
The “inherent differences” between men and women are at the crux of the proposed law. Mizell’s bill goes into great detail about body structure and mass and testosterone levels as reasons that transwomen would outperform cis-gendered women and must not be permitted to play on women’s teams.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA), the state’s governing body for high school athletics, already has rules addressing gender and athletics.
The LHSAA’s rules state that students who want to participate in LHSAA-sanctioned sports may only participate on sports teams according to the gender assignment on the student’s birth certificate.
A transgender student may participate is if she (this bill does not mention transgender boys) already had gender reassignment surgery. Once the student has met the surgical requirement, they still have to go before the association’s “Hardship Committee,” which would determine the student’s eligibility.
There are currently no transgender athletes participating in high school athletics in Louisiana.
The National College Athletics Association (NCAA), which governs collegiate sports, updated gender participation guidelines in January and now follows the rules set by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee.
Mizell has said the bill intends to ensure that little girls around the state do not lose opportunities to participate or earn scholarships.
SB44 is now waiting for consideration in the House and if it passes will go to Gov. Edwards for approval.