Bill to restrict transgender athletes in grades 5-12 lands on New Hampshire governor's desk

CONCORD, NH – A New Hampshire bill that would ban transgender athletes in grades 5-12 from teams that match their gender identity is on the governor's desk.

The Republican-led Senate voted 13-10 on Thursday along party lines to approve a bill that would require schools to designate all teams as girls, boys or co-ed, with eligibility determined based on students' birth certificates.

Supporters of the law said they wanted to protect girls from injuries caused by bigger and stronger transgender athletes.

“When we talk about fairness and rights, we can't cover all circumstances. And so, to a very limited extent, which I think is very clear to most of us, biological boys have an advantage over biological girls,” said Senate President Jeb Bradley, a Republican from Wolfeboro. “We'll never be able to legislate complete justice. But what we can't do is create rights for some at the expense of others.”

How many states ban transgender student-athletes?

At least 20 states nationwide have passed some version of a blanket ban on transgender athletes playing on K-12 and collegiate sports teams, but a Biden administration rule banning such outright bans will be introduced this year after several delays and much opposition force.

The bans have also been challenged in court: Last month, a federal appeals court blocked West Virginia from enforcing the ban, at least as it affected an eighth-grader on a sports team. A judge in Ohio has struck down a ban on both transgender girls' participation in school sports and gender-affirming medical care for minors.

In New Hampshire, the Senate previously passed a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating on sports teams at both the high school and college levels. But the House rejected it earlier this month.

Why Democrats oppose the bill

Democrats who opposed the bill passed Thursday said it was based on scaremongering. Sen. Debra Altschiller, a Democrat from Stratham, said there are only five transgender girls who are athletes in New Hampshire.

“These five girls are not a threat. They are the ones at risk,” she said. “Although this gesture of protection may seem brave, we say no, thank you. If you really want to protect girls, protect marginalized transgender girls.”

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has not stated his position on the bill, and his spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

What are the policies for transgender athletes in Massachusetts schools?

According to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, “a student may not be excluded from participation on a gender-specific sports team that is consistent with his or her true gender identity.”

According to the MIAA, it is up to students and their school to decide their gender classification.

“When a school district submits a roster to the MIAA, it verifies that it has determined that the students represented on a gender-specific sports team are eligible to participate, either based on the gender listed on their official birth certificate or based on their bona.” “There may be no reliable gender identity and no student may be included on the list solely to gain an unfair advantage in competitive sports,” the MIAA handbook states.

Anna Harden

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