House passes bill restricting transgender students in sports

Feb 16, 2022, 4:07 PM | Updated: Sep 23, 2022, 1:01 pm

trans athlete bill...

Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, left, speaks about transgender youth in school sports during a Health and Human Services Interim Committee meeting at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Seated next to Birkeland is Sue Robbins, who serves on the Transgender Advisory Council of Equality Utah. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House of Representatives has passed a bill that will determine whether transgender students can play in school sports.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Kera Birkeland, R- Morgan, passed 52-to-16. It will move onto the Senate. 

Transgender students in sports

It’s not the first time Birkeland has introduced the bill. She also brought it up at the last legislative session. This time, though, it doesn’t outright prevent transgender students from playing in youth sports. It creates a committee that would evaluate on a case-by-case basis, whether a student could play.

Birkeland took her time on the floor today to explain why it’s important.

“We have an opportunity now to od something that is bold, that if different, but that could potentially empower women for generations to come,” said Birkeland. “I think that we would be negligent in our responsibility as leaders of this state, to not take this issue up and brush it off as not as important as others may think it may be.”

Troy Williams from Equality Utah, a group dedicated to LGBTQ rights, says, at this point, it seems like there are only two choices. A full-on ban or that commission.

Governor Spencer Cox was notably emotional over the ban on trans students in sports last year, proposed by the same lawmaker.

In a statement to KSL NewsRadio, the Governor said he’s optimistic there will be a compromise. 

“We are grateful to both sides of this controversial and delicate topic who have come together in good faith to find a reasonable solution. We remain very optimistic that a compromise is close that will protect the integrity of women’s sports and respect the lives of our transgender youth.”

He’s set to give a monthly news conference tomorrow.

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House passes bill restricting transgender students in sports