Human Rights Campaign Calls on Governor Edwards to Veto Louisiana Anti-Transgender Sports Ban

by HRC Staff

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned the Louisiana House passage of Senate Bill 44 (SB 44), which bans transgender students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. The bill now heads back to the Senate for concurrence before heading to Governor John Bel Edwards for review.

SB 44 is a discriminatory attack and further isolates students that are already struggling to live a normal childhood. Transgender kids, like all kids across the country, have said themselves that they play sports for the same reasons all kids do: to be part of a team, to learn discipline, and above all, to have fun with their friends.

This bill is part of a wave of discriminatory attacks on the LGBTQ+ community by the Louisiana state legislature. Last week, the Louisiana House decided to revive an anti-LGBTQ+ curriculum censorship bill that failed to pass committee, a rare move that news reports suggest hasn’t been utilized in nearly 20 years.

SB 44 is Louisiana’s second attempt to pass an anti-transgender sports ban, after a similar bill failed the year prior.

Transgender kids have participated in school athletics for decades without cause for concern – because there is no real issue to be addressed. Hundreds of college athletes, many prominent female athletes, and advocates for women in sports have stood up to anti-transgender sports laws like this one. This false narrative that Louisiana politicians are ‘defending’ women in sports is dangerous and misleading; they have cared about women’s sports for exactly as long as they’ve used it as a reason to attack LGBTQ+ people, and not a second longer. If they really cared about women’s sports, they’d address real problems: systemic racism and sexism, underfunding and lack of resources, or sexual harassment and assault from coaches. But instead, they are choosing to exclude and harm transgender youth for no reason other than to appeal to an extreme faction of their base.

We call on Governor Bel Edwards to follow the lead of governors across the country and to veto this harmful bill.

Cathryn Oakley, HRC State Legislative Director & Senior Counsel

Republican governors Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah and Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana both vetoed similar bills in their states this legislative session, rejecting discriminatory anti-transgender sports bans approved by their state legislatures.

In the last three years, anti-LGBTQ+ groups and politicians have singled out transgender kids to deny them access to gender-affirming medical treatment, prevent them from participating in sports teams consistent with their gender identity, and deny access to bathrooms. 2020 set a record number for anti-transgender bills filed with 79 bills, largely focused on attacking transgender youth; 2021 surpassed that record with 147 such bills filed in 34 states. 2022 is on track to surpass that record yet again. For transgender youth – who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence – to bear the weight of these attacks year after year, this legislation takes a toll. Politicians are culpable for the harms they inflict by continuing to consider bills that target transgender youth.

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