As House Panel Prepares to Consider Bill to Ban Trans Kids From School Sports, Human Rights Campaign Asks: Why Aren’t They Focused on Real Issues in Schools?

by Delphine Luneau

Anti-Equality Members of House Committee on Education and the Workforce Choosing to Attack Marginalized Young People Instead of Addressing Dire Teacher Shortage, Slumping Test Scores, Gun Violence in Schools and More

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, March 8, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a markup of the discriminatory and harmful H.R. 734, legislation that would prevent transgender youth from taking part in school sports activities on teams that match their gender identity. At their very first markup of the new Congress, the House Committee on Education and Workforce is clearly signaling that preventing transgender and non-binary youth from playing sports with their friends is their number one education priority, despite nationwide teacher shortages, gun violence in schools, and slumping test scores, to name a few educational issues.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — criticized the majority on the committee for prioritizing this discriminatory legislation that benefits no one and only harms children, while ignoring more pressing matters.

“As our nation’s children are facing an epidemic of gun violence in our schools, a shortage of quality teachers, and unacceptably high levels of suicide and suicide ideation, House Republicans are pursuing their political agenda over helping our kids who are in crisis. These extremist, anti-equality politicians seem to have a limitless appetite for attacking trans kids, and this federal legislation to prevent kids from taking part in school sports activities is an escalation of these dishonest, transparently political attacks,” said David Stacy, Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director. “Transgender kids, like all kids, deserve a chance to take part in the important development opportunities that come along with playing school sports. It’s a chance to learn sportsmanship, self-discipline, teamwork, and more. This legislation would make it impossible for youth to be their authentic selves, to build a sense of belonging with their peers and just enjoy being part of a team.”

H.R. 734 is reportedly backed by rabidly anti-LGBTQ+ groups such as the Alliance Defending Freedom – which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – the American Principles Project, the Family Policy Alliance and the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

A majority of Americans oppose discriminatory bills seeking to ban transgender and non-binary youth from participation in sports. A PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states. And a poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

Advocates for women and girls in sports support trans-inclusive policies and oppose efforts to exclude transgender students from participating in sports. This includes the National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, Women Leaders in College Sports, and others — including prominent female athletes like Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, and Cheryl Reeve. That’s because while there are real issues facing women’s sports, including a lack of resources devoted to supporting them, transgender participation in athletics is not one of them. And nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states that have enacted anti-trans sports laws.

The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups oppose sports bans. Groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ+ people, and transgender children in particular.

Polling released by HRC in November, following the midterm election, showed that attacking transgender people was ineffective in terms of motivating voters. In the survey, HRC asked voters which specific issues motivated them to vote in 2022. Inflation (52 percent) and abortion (29 percent) ranked first and second on the list. Less than 5 percent identified gender affirming care for transgender youth or transgender participation in sports as issues motivating them to vote, last on this list.

LGBTQ+ kids have real threats and obstacles to overcome. 86% of LGBTQ+ youth report they have been targets of bullying, harassment, or assault at school. Studies have shown that bullying and harassment of LGBTQ+ youth contribute to high rates of absenteeism, dropout, adverse health consequences, and academic underachievement. Kids want to play sports for the same reasons: to be part of a team, to learn discipline, and above all, to have fun with their friends. Kids shouldn’t be banned from sports because of who they are.

For more information, please access the following resources on HRC’s website:

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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