PA House Passes Transgender Sports Bill, Wolf Promises Veto

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Capital Star is reporting… The Pennsylvania House has passed a veto-bound bill banning transgender women from competing on women’s school sports teams.   The bill, which addresses a top issue for social conservatives in the lead up to the 2022 election, passed the Republican-controlled lower chamber by a vote of 115-84 on Tuesday afternoon. Most Republicans voted yes; most Democrats no, with a handful of defections.  It now heads to the state Senate, although it has little chance of becoming law. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has already promised to veto the bill, and has never had a veto overridden since taking office in 2015.

The bill, known as the “Protect Women’s Sports Act,” was first introduced last April by state Rep. Barbara Gleim, R-Cumberland, as part of a national wave of similar bills popping up in state legislatures across the country.  Gleim — along with the bill’s fellow sponsors Reps. Martina White, R-Philadelphia, Dawn Keefer, R-York, Valerie Gaydos, R-Allegheny, and Stephanie Borowicz, R-Clinton, all of whom are former athletes — claim the legislation will “protect opportunities for women and girls in athletics” and preserve protections afforded to women under Title IX, a 1972 federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in any education program or activity at any federally funded institution.

“Biologically, males and females are different,” Gleim said during Tuesday’s floor debate. “This fact cannot be reversed through surgery or changes in hormones.”  However, the bill’s opponents say it does little to support Title IX and is a “solution in search of a problem.”  “This bill is an ignorant attempt to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” state Sen. Katie Muth, D-Montgomery, co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Caucus, said last month. “If the majority’s intent is to give women a level playing field, we should address the inequities in funding, resources, media coverage, and pay in women’s sports.”  The upper chamber has already taken action on a similar proposal.

Sens. Judy Ward, R-Blair, and Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York, introduced a companion bill in the Senate less than a week ago. It then advanced out of the Education Committee on Monday on a party-line vote.  Ward, citing parents as the No. 1 group supporting the legislation, maintained that the bill is not about gender. Instead, she argued that the bill is about sex and biological differences.  “Over the past century, we have fought to protect athletic opportunities for female students,” Ward said during Monday’s committee meeting. “And now these opportunities are in jeopardy. Under this legislation, school athletic teams designated for women may not be open to those of the male sex.”

Democrats on the Senate panel voiced opposition to the proposal, with Sen. Lindsey Williams, D-Allegheny, calling the legislation not just a “bad bill, but one that will actively cause harm to our students.”  Other state lawmakers have questioned whether the decision should be made by the Legislature at all, or deferred to the governing bodies of high school and collegiate sports in the commonwealth — the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

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