Tommy Tuberville’s Pathetic Attempt to Attack Transgender Kids Nationwide Fails in U.S. Senate

by Delphine Luneau

Unanimous Consent Proposal Is Blocked, Preventing Needless Discrimination Against Kids Across Country Who Just Want to Play

WASHINGTON — In a futile attempt that was guaranteed to fail, Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama attempted today to push forward legislation that would have banned transgender youth nationwide from taking part in school sporting events consistent with their gender identities. The motion for unanimous consent on the legislation was blocked immediately by Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, thereby preventing the bill from being approved on the spot by the Senate.

In response, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned Tuberville’s empty gesture and thanked Sen. Hirono.

“Tommy Tuberville walked into the Senate today with harming the LGBTQ+ community on his mind and knowing that he would accomplish nothing except inflaming tensions and adding to the flood of divisive, anti-LGBTQ+ misinformation particularly targeting transgender kids,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC’s Senior Vice President, Policy & Political Affairs. “The reality is that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect – and transgender kids, like other students, deserve the same chances to learn sportsmanship, self-discipline and teamwork. We shouldn’t discriminate against kids and ban them from playing because they’re transgender, but radical politicians desperate to rile up their base are making it impossible for kids to be their authentic selves with moves like this. Tuberville knows – we hope – that his own state of Alabama is already facing lawsuits for needlessly discriminating against transgender kids. We encourage Sen. Tuberville to stop targeting kids who just want to play, and focus on the real issues facing this nation.
“And we thank one of our champions, Sen. Hirono, for standing up for kids and equality.”

The legislation put forth by Tuberville, originally sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, is explicitly discriminatory, mimicking efforts at the state level to forbid transgender students from participating in school athletic programs consistent with their gender identity. HRC has tracked more than 140 pieces of anti-transgender legislation in statehouses across the country; of those, 77 would prohibit transgender students from playing school sports. But the reality is, transgender and nonbinary athletes have been playing for many years, with sports associations in many states already having policies in place designed to ensure fairness.

Among the organizations supporting Senator Lee’s legislation are a litany of anti-LGBTQ+ organizations, including Southern Poverty Law Center designated hate groups such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council. The work of these groups includes efforts to criminalize LGBTQ+ relationships, opposing settled law like marriage equality, and even opposing the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Anti-transgender discrimination in sports is opposed by prominent advocates for women and girls in sports – such as the National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, Women Leaders in College Sports, and others – which support trans-inclusive policies and oppose efforts to exclude transgender students from participating in sports. So do prominent female athletes including Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, and Cheryl Reeve.

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. When left unchecked, such bullying has led to dangerous situations for young people. Lawmakers shouldn’t be bullying trans kids.

Businesses, Advocacy Groups, and Athletes Oppose Anti-Trans Legislation

Nearly 200 major U.S. corporations have spoken out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. Companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Dell, Dow, Google, IBM, Lyft, Marriott, Microsoft, Nike, and Paypal have objected to these bills. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.

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 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.

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.

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.”

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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