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ND House passes transgender sports bill

HB 1298 also bans sporting events from receiving public dollars for exclusive-gender sports...
HB 1298 also bans sporting events from receiving public dollars for exclusive-gender sports featuring players of an opposite gender at birth.(KFYR)
Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 3:31 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The State House of Representatives passed a bill that would bar youth and high school athletes from participating in sports other than that of their birth-assigned gender.

HB 1298 also bans sporting events from receiving public dollars for exclusive-gender sports featuring players of an opposite gender at birth.

Supporters of the bill said it’s intended to protect opportunities and scholarships for girls, arguing the successes of Title IX called for the expansion.

Rep. Ben Koppelman, R-West Fargo, is the bill’s primary sponsor.

“Some have said this bill just doesn’t follow the science. We’ve got science going back well before the United States that backs this. This isn’t new science. Men and women didn’t just cease to exist. They’ve existed for a long time and we’ve been able to recognize the differences,” Koppelman said.

During debate, opponents said it’s a targeted anti-transgender bill.

House Minority Leader Josh Boschee, D-Fargo, said the bill will “codify discrimination.”

“It’s about learning about yourself, being part of a team, solving problems, figuring out life. But we’re gonna tell some kids you can’t. And even though most those kids aren’t gonna go up for high school athletics because it’s not within their skillset or desirability, they’re gonna see the action made by this body and it’s going to play into some unfortunate other decisions that they’ll make,” Boschee said.

A late amendment to the bill would allow girls to play on exclusively boys’ teams, and opponents argued this would ironically violate Title IX.

Those who voted for the bill, including Rep. Kathy Skroch, R-Lingerwood, Rep. Scott Louser, R-Minot, Rep. Vicky Steiner, R-Dickinson, argued the bills don’t discriminate, but rather protects the differences in biology.

Skroch argued that women are smaller and shouldn’t have to compete on an unfair playing field.

“Biology doesn’t get confused, even if people do,” Rep. Karen Karls, R-Bismarck, read from a letter to the chamber.

The vote was 65 – 26 and will move over to the Senate for consideration and possible amendments.

With it’s passing, some lawmakers are worried about the ramifications from sources outside the state.

Rep. Greg Westlind, R-Cando, warned that North Dakota could open itself up to litigation and lose national tournaments if this bill becomes law. This would be similar to North Carolina’s “Bathroom Bill” from 2017.

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