Human Rights Campaign Condemns Passage of Doomed Anti-Trans Sports Ban by Pennsylvania Lawmakers

by Delphine Luneau

House of Representatives Passes HB972, Which Would Unjustly Prevent Transgender Students From Participating in School Sports Alongside Their Peers

HARRISBURG — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned the passage today of House Bill 972, legislation that seeks to ban transgender public school, college and university students from participating in sports on the teams consistent with their gender identities.

The passage of the bill comes after a recent survey showed that 63% of LGBTQ+ people in Pennsylvania had reported experiencing depression in the prior two weeks, almost twice the number of non-LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians reporting the same. Politicians are culpable for the harm they cause by subjecting vulnerable youth to continued legislative attacks.

“This legislation serves only one purpose — to advance self-serving political objectives of anti-LGBTQ+ lawmakers in the Pennsylvania House at the expense of young transgender Pennsylvanians,” said Ryan Matthews, HRC’s Pennsylvania State Director. “House leadership knows that this bill isn’t going anywhere — Gov. Tom Wolf would veto it if it ever landed on his desk. This kind of legislation, which targets a marginalized population without doing any good whatsoever, is simply part of a coordinated, nationwide campaign aiming to incite hatred and attract extremist votes, and it has no place in this state. The Pennsylvania Senate should do the right thing here and reject this bigoted attack.”

Similar legislation, Senate Bill 1191, has been introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate.

Caught in the crosshairs of anti-LGBTQ+ elected officials’ divisive political strategy are kids who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence — kids who face relentless targeting and increased levels of discrimination in their community, as evidenced by the record incidents of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-binary people in 2021. 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.

Meanwhile, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, and former Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus – all Republicans – each recently chose to stand on the right side of history by speaking out against the coordinated legislative attacks on the LGBTQ+ community – especially transgender youth – underway in their states and nationwide.

Strong Opposition to Discriminatory Attacks on LGBTQ+ Population

Nationally, support for nondiscrimination protections is the highest it’s ever been, overall, and across state, religious affiliation, and party membership: According to a recent report from PRRI, approximately eight in ten Americans (79%) favor laws that would protect LGBTQ+ people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. This reflects an 11% increase in the proportion of Americans who support nondiscrimination protections since 2015 (71%).

The PRRI study also shows that anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-trans legislation is unlikely to gain support from Pennsylvania residents — 80% of Pennsylvanians support nondiscrimination protections, and 67% of Pennsylvanians oppose refusal of service on religious grounds.

The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups, representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations, recently 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.

More than 200 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being proposed in states across the country. Companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, Airbnb, Disney, Dell, Dow, Google, IBM, Marriott, Microsoft, Nike , and Wells Fargo have objected to anti-LGBTQ+ state legislation. Apple CEO Tim Cook has made it clear that he stands with LGBTQ+ youth harmed by legislation like HB 1557. More than 60 businesses went on the record last month with an ad placed in the Dallas Morning News calling on public leaders to abandon efforts to write discimrination into law and policy. Apple, Capital One, Google, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Meta, Microsoft, Salesforce and Unilever were among the more than 60 businesses that joined the ad. Only weeks ago, Rosanna Durruthy, Vice President, Global Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at LinkedIn, invited the LinkedIn community to stand up for LGBTQ+ families and their right to make decisions to support their loved ones.

Legislative Attacks on LGBTQ+ People

Just a few months into the year, HRC is tracking 609+ pieces of potentially LGBTQ+-related legislation introduced in the 2022 state legislative session. Of those, at least 323 are classified as harmful to the LGBTQ+ community, and 140+ are specifically anti-transgender bills.

While the sponsors of these pieces of legislation make disingenuous claims about what their bills will do, their own statements and those of their supporters are revealing their true intentions. Advisers and staffers for Republican governors in Florida, Texas and South Dakota, and a bill sponsor in Iowa, have made public hateful comments this year laying bare that these bills are more about prejudice against transgender people than any real policy position.

A Coordinated, National Effort to Fear Monger and Marginalize LGBTQ+ People

Groups like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom, Eagle Forum, and others are at the helm of this effort, seeking to use LGBTQ+ rights as a political wedge.

These bills are the result of a concerted effort by right-wing organizations that have been battling against LGBTQ+ progress for years. Across recent elections, one of the key anti-equality groups working to turn back decades of LGBTQ+ progress has been the American Principles Project (APP). APP and its chief underwriter Sam Fieler have invested millions of dollars in support of anti-LGBTQ+ candidates. In 2020, APP spent more than $2.6 million in ad spending in support of anti-equality candidates. In Virginia in 2021, APP spent at least $300,000 on digital advertising in support of Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign.

Restoration PAC, run and funded by major anti-LGBTQ+ bankroller Dick Uihlein, spent at least $1.9 million in advertising across Virginia in support of Youngkin and donated $942,000 to the political arm of anti-abortion group Women Speak Out Virginia. Anti-equality group Free to Learn Action launched a $1 million ad campaign spreading widely debunked anti-transgender misinformation in support of Youngkin’s campaign.

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.

Contact Us

To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email