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Bill Targeting Transgender Athletes in ND Advances

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021   

BISMARCK, N.D. -- A North Dakota legislative committee has approved a measure that LGBTQ advocates said unfairly targets transgender athletes.

This week, the House Human Services Committee advanced House Bill 1298, which effectively bars public high-school athletes who identify as transgender from participating in team sports that don't align with the sex on their birth certificate.

The bill's sponsors contended they don't want unfair competition in team sports, and the proposal can especially protect female athletes so they wouldn't have to face competition from athletes born as males.

But Brandi Hardy, legislative coordinator for the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, said that argument is counterproductive.

"I think that it's egregious to stand behind one movement to push forward hate towards another group of people," Hardy countered.

Other opponents feared it will push transgender athletes further away from their fellow students, while making it harder for them to decide which activities to sign up for.

Similar legislation has surfaced in other states in recent years. The North Dakota bill has some amendments, including removing language for college sports over concerns the law would result in regional schools losing out on hosting events.

Rep. Mary Schneider, D-Fargo, a member of the Human Services Committee, voted against the measure, arguing it's a solution in search of a problem.

"Girls don't need this protection, they don't want this protection, they didn't testify for this protection," Schneider explained.

She added the only thing it will do is create an image problem for the state when it comes to discrimination.

The association which governs high school sports in North Dakota has rules that allow transgender students to sign up for activities under their identifying gender, with certain restrictions.

Transgender advocates say the state should adopt those rules to eliminate any confusion.

Disclosure: North Dakota Human Rights Coalition contributes to our fund for reporting on Civil Rights, Human Rights/Racial Justice, LGBTQIA Issues, and Women's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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