Indiana Senate passes ban on transgender girls playing on girls' sports teams

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(NEW YORK) — An Indiana bill to ban transgender girls from participating in girls sports in K-12 schools passed the state Senate on Tuesday. State legislators voted 32-18 in favor of the bill.

The bill now goes to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk for signature. He has not explicitly said if he will sign it into law.

Holcomb previously stated that he agrees “adamantly that boys should be playing boys’ sports and girls should be playing girls’ sports.” It is unclear whether his definition of “boys” and “girls” is trans-inclusive.

Several organizations have spoken out against the legislation and called for Holcomb’s veto since Tuesday.

“With so much going on at home and abroad, it’s disappointing to see Indiana lawmakers prioritize regulating transgender student-athletes,” Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on LGBTQ suicide prevention and crisis intervention, told ABC News. “This will likely become the second anti-trans bill enacted in 2022 and the 11th anti-trans sports ban across the country. While the rationale for these bills is based on myth and misunderstanding, the impacts they’re having are very real.”

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Advocates say the bill will have a serious negative effect on transgender students’ mental and physical well-being.

“Trans kids — like all kids — just want to be able to play with their friends. This regressive and damaging legislation hurts transgender youth and doesn’t address any actual problem,” Cathryn Oakley, Human Rights Campaign state legislative director and senior counsel, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“This bill puts already vulnerable youth in more danger, and threatens the health and safety of all children in Indiana,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, an anti-LGBTQ defamation organization, said in a statement. “Every child should have the chance to play with their friends and to belong, just as they are, and experience the lifelong benefits that being on a team can offer.”

Jay Brown, senior vice president of programs, research and training at The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, spoke on the stigma and potential consequences that bills like HB 1041 can perpetuate in the organization’s 2021 Epidemic of Violence report.

“When lawmakers discuss bills banning transgender and non-binary youth from accessing medical care, playing school sports or using restrooms, it sends a message that even from an early age transgender and non-binary people are different and unwelcome,” he said.

Authored by Republican Indiana state Rep. Michelle Davis, HB 1041 is one of several anti-trans bills being proposed around the country.

“I want to make sure that all the opportunities are provided for our young females and we protect the fair competition for them so they have all those possibilities,” Davis said at a hearing in January. Davis admitted under questioning during the hearing she could not cite any examples in Indiana of a cisgender student losing a chance to compete to a trans athlete, according to Indianapolis ABC affiliate WRTV.

Another Republican-backed bill, SB 435 or the “Save Girls’ Sports Act,” which similarly calls for a ban on transgender boys and girls participating in high school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity, passed in the Georgia Senate last week. It will have to pass in the House before going to Gov. Brian Kemp, a sponsor of the bill, for review.

ABC News’ Kiara Alfonseca and Tony Morrison contributed to this report.

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