Hundreds rally against transgender athlete ban, call on veto to be upheld
SALT LAKE CITY — The debate over the proposed transgender athlete ban continues to heat up, with people on both sides planning rallies at the Capitol. Hundreds showed up on the south steps to call on lawmakers to uphold the governor’s veto.
Lawmakers have scheduled a special session of congress to try and override Governor Spencer Cox’s veto of House Bill 11. The bill would introduce an all-out ban on transgender student-athletes taking part in high school sports, and passed out of the legislator with a majority that was not veto-proof. The governor says the latest version of the bill did not allow for any public input into its passage.
Critics of the bill waved trans-pride flags and carried signs saying things like “Let Kids Play” and “Hands Off Our Kids.” Utah Pride Center Spokesman Kevin Randall says there’s a chance the veto could be overturned, and if it is, he doesn’t expect the law to stay on the books for long.
Randall said, “Even if they pass this bill, I don’t think it’s the end of it. I don’t think it’s sustainable, either. I feel like they could pass HB 11, but it’s going to see a lot of problems. It’s going to see legal action.”
He believes it would be foolish of lawmakers to overturn the veto if it could lead to massive, expensive lawsuits. He added that there is no evidence of transgender students taking athletic scholarships away from female athletes.
“There are only four transgender individuals that we know of that are participating in sports that this bill impacts. Four out of 75,000 students,” according to Randall.
UEA applauds governor’s veto
Utah Education Association President Heidi Matthews says she’s hearing a lot of talk on both sides of the issue, including from some of their members who wonder why the UEA is weighing in, at all.
Matthews says some people say, “Girls participating in sports… this isn’t an education issue.”
However, she says the association as to focus on what is best for marginalized students. And she believes a bill excluding transgender students out of anything would cause tremendous damage.
“House Bill 11 scores political points, but it doesn’t take into consideration the consequences to transgender students,” she said. “Regardless of their interest in sports, this sends a message of exclusion and intimidation.”
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