Human Rights Campaign Condemns Governor Edwards’ Decision to Allow Anti-Transgender Sports Ban To Become Law

by HRC Staff

Senate Bill 44 Bans Transgender Students From Participating in School Sports Consistent With Their Gender Identity

Baton Rouge – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards for allowing Senate Bill 44 (SB 44), which bans transgender students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, to become law. The Governor issued a statement explaining his decision, despite the fact he vetoed similar legislation last year. His statement acknowledges that the law will harm transgender youth and does not address any real problem, and that his opposition to the bill has not changed. The bill will go into effect later this year.

Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley released the following statement:

“Governor Edwards’ decision betrays his LGBTQ+ constituents and fails the transgender youth who were counting on his leadership. Earlier this year, multiple Republican governors defied likely veto overrides to defend transgender youth. Allowing this discriminatory bill to become law sends a dangerous message that protecting Louisiana’s transgender youth isn’t a priority.
“We stand by Louisianans who feel betrayed by a governor who promised to fight for all Louisianans, including the LGBTQ+ community. The radical politicians that engineered this bill are targeting kids who just want to play sports for the same reason all students do - to learn the values of teamwork, to face healthy competition, and to have fun. These children were failed by their leaders.”

This bill is part of a wave of discriminatory attacks on the LGBTQ+ community nationwide, including by the Louisiana state legislature, which persisted in its pursuit of discriminatory legislation over several years. Last month, the Louisiana House tried to revive an anti-LGBTQ+ curriculum censorship bill that failed to pass committee, employing a rare and controversial procedural move that news reports suggested hadn’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 last year.

Governor Edwards is correct that these bills harm transgender youth: a study by the Trevor Project found that 42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. 94% of LGBTQ+ youth also reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health.

Further, these bills are politically extreme and not supported by most Americans. They are wielded by legislators who don’t care about the consequences of their actions and can find a segment of their base that they can activate by these baseless, discriminatory attacks. According to a recent survey featured in the Washington Post, 59% of respondents said they opposed or strongly opposed banning transgender girls from participating in K-12 athletics, including 48% of Republican or Republican-leaning respondents. The analysis, by leading political scientists, highlights how the recent wave of anti-transgender policies does not align with public opinion.

Governor Edwards is the first Democratic governor to fail to veto a bill like SB 44. 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.

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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