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Senate committee studying transgender athlete bill


Supporters say it will protect high school girls’ sports.

Opponents say it’s a solution in search of a problem.

The bill is HB 1298. It would restrict transgender high school students from competing on teams that are exclusively for the opposite sex. It passed the House, and is now in a Senate committee.

The supporters say it upholds Title IX – a federal law that protects people from discrimination on the basis of sex in school programs and activities that receive federal funds.

"It is commonly understood that there are physical and physiological traits that differ between the sexes," the bill's main author, Rep. Ben Koppelman (R-West Fargo) told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "In order to provide equal opportunities and activities, it is necessary to determine how to insure fair competition."

Beth Stelzer represents a group called “Save Women’s Sports.”

"If we continue to allow males to compete in female sporting events, we'll have male sports, we'll have co-ed sports, but sports for women and girls will fade away," Stelzer told the Committee. "This bill is not a ban. This bill is not rooted in hate, or trans-phobia. It is simply to protect fairness for biological females."

Opponents said it could be hurtful to certain children.

"Let's just take a moment to think about who the bill is targeting -- children," said Brandi Hardy of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition. "It's targeting children who are trying to navigate friendships, interests, and acceptance from their peers. This bill is adding unwarranted pressures to our children."

Opponents also argued some of those presumptions are based on 50 year old science. Dr. Kathy Anderson of Bismarck is the president of the North Dakota chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She told the Committee the bill would penalize children for things they have no control over.

"We need to join together to create an environment that nurtures the development of all children, not the fears of some adults," Anderson said.

The committee did not take immediate action.

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