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Tribune editorial: Bill OKs bias, not fairness in prep sports

Tribune editorial: Bill OKs bias, not fairness in prep sports

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It’s disappointing that House Bill 1298 so easily passed the North Dakota House, 65-26. It’s a veiled attempt to target one group and legalize discrimination.

The bill prohibits publicly funded schools and entities from permitting a person under 18 to participate on a high school boys or girls sports team other than that of their birth-assigned gender, or sponsoring an event that allowed it. The bill does allow girls to participate in school sports for boys such as football.

The bill is an obvious attempt to target transgender students. Supporters try to cloak that by arguing the bill supports Title IX, a 1972 federal law that protects people from sex-based discrimination in schools that receive federal money. They also argue it guarantees fairness in girls sports.

The Tribune editorial board believes it’s a solution in search of a problem with roots in the fear of LGBTQ youth. The bill feeds the myth that boys are going to switch gender so they can dominate on a girls team. The desire to be a sports star isn’t what prompts questions about gender identity.

LGBTQ youth have to deal with enough issues, including bullying, without the stigma of the bill. Other states have considered similar legislation and been challenged in court. Last year, a federal judge in Idaho blocked such a law. The judge granted a preliminary injunction allowing transgender girls and women to participate in school sports in Idaho.

The North Dakota High School Activities Association, which oversees school sports, has a transgender student board regulation. This regulation provides the fairness that supporters say the bill guarantees. The association’s regulation makes the bill unnecessary.

The regulation states:

Any transgender student who is not taking hormone treatment related to gender transition may participate in a sex-separated interscholastic contest in accordance with the sex assigned to him or her at birth.

A trans male (female to male) student who has undergone treatment with testosterone for gender transition may compete in a contest for boys but is no longer eligible to compete in a contest for girls.

A trans female (male to female) student being treated with testosterone suppression medication for gender transition may continue to compete in a contest for boys but may not compete in a contest for girls until completing one calendar year of documented testosterone-suppression treatment.

The regulation covers the concerns voiced by supporters of the bill, rendering it unnecessary. The only difference is the bill is discriminatory by targeting one group of students. The Senate should see it for what it is and reject it.

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