Pennsylvania Senate Wastes Time Attacking Transgender Kids By Passing Bill It Knows Governor Will Veto

by Delphine Luneau

Senate Bill 1191 Aims to Prevent Transgender Students From Participating in School Sports Alongside Their Peers

HARRISBURG — Instead of working on real solutions to the problems facing the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Senate took time out of its schedule today to pass a discriminatory bill that targets a marginalized population of students – transgender girls and women– knowing full well that Gov. Tom Wolf will veto the legislation when it reaches his desk.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — denounced the futile, damaging passage of Senate Bill 1191, which would, if passed, prevent transgender public school, college and university students from participating in sports on the teams consistent with their gender identities.

“The Pennsylvania Senate has followed the example of the House in attacking transgender kids, all while fully aware that this doomed bill is nothing more than theatrics. This is a craven attack by self-serving lawmakers who are calculating that they can derive a political benefit by hurting kids,” said Ryan Matthews, HRC’s Pennsylvania State Director. “Transgender kids just want to play sports with their friends. They want to enjoy camaraderie, teamwork, and the exhilaration of playing a game. Fortunately, Gov. Wolf has already vowed to veto the bill, but we know that the mere threat of legislation like this is enough to damage the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender youth. Pennsylvania’s leaders need to do better than to spend time attacking kids who haven’t harmed anyone.”

The passage of the bill comes after lawmakers in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a similar bill, House Bill 972. 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.

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 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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