Arizona House Approves Bill That Would Ban Transgender Students From Participating in Women’s Sports

March 5, 2020 Updated: March 5, 2020
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The Arizona House of Representatives on March 3 passed a bill that if signed into law could see transgender students banned from participating in girls sports at schools across the state.

The bill, H.B. 2706 (pdf), requires interscholastic or intramural athletic teams or sports sponsored by an educational institution to be “expressly designated” for “males, men, or boys;” “females, women, or girls;” or “co-ed or mixed sex.” Athletic teams “designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex,” under the proposal.

All public and private schools that sponsor interscholastic and intramural sports would be forced to comply with the bill, also known as the Save Women’s Sports Act. This includes K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities.

If the sex of the student is disputed, they may establish it by presenting a signed doctor’s statement indicating their sex based on an analysis of their genetic makeup.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Nancy Barto (R-Ariz.), initially required that students get a sworn doctor’s statement detailing their genetic makeup, “internal and external reproductive anatomy,” and “normal endogenously produced levels of testosterone.”

Opponents of the bill argue that it fails to protect LGBTQ children and transgender youth and leaves them vulnerable to bullying and privacy invasions.

“Transgender children are being attacked at the will of members of the @AZGOP all because they don’t fit in their siloed and antiquated thought process,” Rep. César Chávez (D-Ariz.) tweeted Tuesday.

“The vote tonight was shameful,” Rep. Kirsten Engel (D-Ariz.) tweeted. “Political points for Republicans at the cost of our most vulnerable kids, our transgender youth. I’m not proud of my state today.”

Barto told Save Women’s Sports, a coalition that seeks to preserve biology-based eligibility standards for participation in female sports, that the bill is not a ban but instead “preserves a level playing field for girls and women.”

She said that the bill will enable females to “have available to them the equal opportunity Title IX promised them nearly 50 years ago,” and “it allows all athletes to participate according to their sex.”

“Congress knew nearly 50 years ago that men and women are different, and if women were going to have a chance at the equal opportunity in sports and education they deserved, Congress would have to make some distinctions. That’s why they passed Title IX. This bill is about fairness in women’s sports. That’s it,” she added.

Title IX is a federal civil rights law passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 which protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

H.B. 2706 does note that “any student who is deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers a direct or indirect harm as a result of a violation of this section has a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages, and any other relief available under law against the educational institution.”

The bill passed along a party-line vote of 31-29 on Tuesday, and it will now be sent to the state Senate.