Sports ban for transgender youth is back for debate in South Carolina

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LGBTQ groups gather for a press conference to speak out against a bill that would ban transgender athletes from competing in women's sports Thursday, March 10, 2022 in Columbia, South Carolina (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

LGBTQ groups gather for a press conference to speak out against a bill that would ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports Thursday, March 10, 2022 in Columbia, South Carolina (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

PA

A bill that would ban transgender female student-athletes from participating in women’s sports in South Carolina is suddenly back before lawmakers.

A similar proposal died in a House committee last spring even as nearly a dozen other states, all led by Republicans, passed their own laws barring transgender students from playing on girls’ sports teams. in college and high school.

But on Thursday, a House subcommittee heard testimony for an hour on the proposal and LGBTQ advocates and a conservative family group held press conferences within 30 minutes of each other at the Statehouse. . Next week, a Senate subcommittee will hold its own public hearing.

The bill states that the gender of students on their birth certificates will determine whether they can play on a boys’ team or a girls’ team. Boys will not be allowed on girls’ teams, while girls can play on boys’ teams.

“It’s about families, fairness and children,” said Rep. Cezar McKnight of Kingstree, the only Democrat to vote for the bill in committee last April. Six Republicans voted against at the time.

Proponents frame it as mere fairness when assessing physiological differences between males and females. But opponents said it was too simplistic.

“I can’t tell you how many times I sat in the exam room listening to these children cry as they told me their stories. This is a group of marginalized children. We don’t need to marginalize them any further, said Columbia pediatrician Debbie Greenhouse.

Republican state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman also spoke out against the proposal last year.

There are no public accusations that a transgender player has competitive advantages in South Carolina. Last year, The Associated Press contacted two dozen lawmakers in more than 20 states considering similar youth sports measures and found that it was only a problem a few times among the hundreds of thousands of teenagers. who play sports in high school.

Bills in the House and Senate are coming at a critical deadline. Bills that do not pass at least one chamber by April 10 require a two-thirds vote to be considered. Republicans are a few seats below that threshold in both chambers.

The House subcommittee had pages of speakers who wanted to speak to lawmakers about the bill and did not come close to the end of the list. The bill is likely to go through the House Judiciary Committee, where it failed in 2021.

The Senate has not yet taken up the issue, so its future is unclear.

During Thursday’s hearing, Dylan Gunnells, who founded The Agape Table where LGBTQ people of faith can gather, asked lawmakers to remember they were dealing with people.

“Remove labels, even your own, and identify with the humanity of the people you serve,” Gunnells said.

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSColinsAP.

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