Kentucky bill would require athletes to compete based on sex at birth – Courier Journal

Posted: January 26, 2020 at 6:44 am

High school and college athletes in Kentucky would only be allowed to compete in sports that align with their biological sexand not their preferred gender identityunder a bill that a state lawmaker filed Friday.

Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson, introduced Senate Bill 114 and titled it the "Save Womens Sports Act."

The bill calls for students to only participate in sports and use athletic facilities that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates.

If astudent's birth certificate has been edited or if the student's biological sex is officially challenged, then the student would have to undergo a medical examination performed and signed by a physician, physician's assistant or advanced practice registered nurse.

The examination would establish the student's sex based solely on "internal and external reproductive anatomy," testosterone levels and an "analysis of the student's genetic makeup," according to the bill.

Mills could not immediately be reached for comment.

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SB 114 would allow students who have been "deprived of an athletic opportunity" or who have suffered "any direct or indirect harm" or privacy violations due to violations of the bill's regulations to school districts and universities within two years "after the harm occurred."

Chris Hartman, executive director of the Louisville-based Fairness Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, said the bill is "once again a solution in search of a problem" and "a plea for votes in an election year."

"This is clearly part of a politically motivated (and)expanding slate of hate that's being introduced in the state targeting all LGBTQ people but with particular emphasis on transgender students," Hartman said. "...Imagine how hard it is for trans kids already on a daily basis. This bill tells them they shouldn't be participating in athletics."

"Transgender kids want to join sports teams for all the same reasons any other student does," Hartmanadded.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association currently has a policy that recognizes the ability of transgender student-athletes to compete in sports "free from unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation."

But some still view the KHSAA policy as restrictive, as it requires transgender athletes to undergo sex reassignment surgeryeither before or after puberty inorder to compete in sports based on their gender identity.

If reassignment surgery occurs after puberty, then transgender student-athletes in Kentucky must demonstrate that they've taken or are taking hormone therapy "for a sufficient length of time to minimize gender-related advantages in sports competition," according to the KHSAA policy.

As The Courier Journal reported last year, Kentucky was one of nine states with such policies for transgender high school athletes.

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Hartman said "few, if any" transgender students can currently meet the KHSAA guidelines, making Mills'bill unnecessary.

"I guarantee that Sen. Mills doesn't have a single instance in Kentucky athletics that this bill would address, not a single one," Hartman said. "If he can bring a witness to the table whom this applies to...I'd be shocked."

The topic of transgender athletesin Kentucky came up during the 2019 gubernatorial race between DemocratAndy Beshear and then-Republican Gov. Matt Bevin when aconservative political action committee released an ad claiming Kentucky boys are changing their gender to participate in high school sports.

The ad from the Virginia-based Campaign for American Principlesfeatured a narrator saying that Beshear the state's attorney general at the timewho is now governor after beating Bevin in November's election "supports legislation that would destroy girls' sports."

It showed a male competitor portraying a transgender girl and passinga group of female runners tofinishfirst.

The new proposal from Mills related to high school and college athletes is not the only bill in the 2020 legislative session that deals with transgender students.

House Bill 132 would bartransgender students from usingrestrooms that alignwith their gender identities.

State Rep. David Hale, R-Wellington, is the lead sponsor of the bill, which is titled the "Kentucky Student Privacy Act"and says non-transgender students could suffer"potential embarrassment, shame and psychologicalinjury" by using the same restroom or changing room as their transgender peers.

LGBTQ advocates have called Hale's bill "dangerous" and warned it would contribute to depression and suicide rates among transgender youth.

A similar bill has been introduced inpast General Assembly sessions, including one proposal in 2015 that would have allowedstudents to sue aschool for $2,500 ifthey encountered a person of the opposite biological sex in a bathroom or locker room and staff hadallowed it or failed to prohibit it.

State Sen. C.B. Embry Jr., R-Morgantown, proposed the2015 version of the "Kentucky Student Privacy Act" in response to a 2014 controversy at Louisville's Atherton High School in which the principal allowed a transgender student who was born male but identifies as a female to use the girls' bathrooms and locker rooms.

A bipartisan group of Kentucky lawmakers are also behind a push to ban conversion therapy in the Bluegrass State.

On Politics:Can conversion therapy ban pass if top Kentucky lawmakers don't understand it?

This story may be updated.

Reach Billy Kobin at bkobin@courierjournal.com or 502-582-7030. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/subscribe.

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Kentucky bill would require athletes to compete based on sex at birth - Courier Journal

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