A Republican legislator prefiled a bill that would prohibit transgender girls and women from playing women’s sports in public K-12 schools and colleges. This bill would be part of the 2022 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
The bill was prefiled by Rep. Ryan Dotson, a Winchester Republican. The bill would apply to public schools and universities and states that designation of participation for all athletic teams, activities, and sports would be based on the biological sex of students.
“Simply put, I prefiled this legislation to protect the integrity of women’s sports,” Dotson said.
Dotson said his reasons include the magnitude of sports in providing opportunities for women, specifically the ability to go to college, receive scholarships, and financial aid.
“We need to be realistic about the weight of these life-changing opportunities and ensure that fairness prevails, he said.
“Research shows that transgender women have a muscle-mass advantage over biological women, even if they take a testosterone suppressant,” Dotson said. “Allowing transgender women to participate in women’s sports gives transgender women an unfair advantage.”
Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign said in a text to Queer Kentucky that it’s a shame that as Kentucky works to recover from this devastating pandemic that some lawmakers would choose to prioritize LGBTQ discrimination—it’s especially offensive in the middle of Pride Month, but I imagine that’s intentional.
“Bills that seek to exclude LGBTQ students from full participation in school life are incredibly harmful to some of our most vulnerable LGBTQ youth, who already experience disproportionately high rates of depression and suicide,” Hartman said. “Rep. Dotson and others should take the time to talk with LGBTQ constituents to understand their lives before they introduce legislation to further marginalize our community.”
Louisville’s Courier Journal reported that Dotson is a Pentecostal pastor serving in his first term.
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association has a policy that recognizes the ability of transgender student-athletes to compete in sports “free from unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
But some still view the KHSAA policy as restrictive, as it requires transgender athletes to undergo sex reassignment surgery either before or after puberty in order to compete in sports based on their gender identity.
Hartman stated last year to the Courier Journal that “few, if any” transgender students can meet the current KHSAA guidelines, making such legislation unnecessary. He added the bills’ proponents could not provide a single instance when this became an issue.
The Courier Journal further reported that “Other legislation filed but not passed in recent years targeting transgender students include bills to prohibit transgender students from using restrooms that align with their identities and create criminal penalties for doctors providing transgender youth with identity-related medical treatments.”
Rep. Lisa Willner, D-Louisville, said it’s been “heartbreaking” to see the rise of anti-LGBTQ legislation across the country and fears this type of bill “could have a tragic impact” on transgender youth already at high risk for depression and suicide.
“As state leaders, we ought to be celebrating the diversity of Kentucky students, and protecting them from harassment and discrimination rather than bringing forward gratuitous bills that can have a harmful impact,” Willner said.