SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – On Thursday, the House Education Committee voted 8-6 to move forward with H.B. 302, a bill that would restrict transgender athletes from participating in female high school sports, if their gender at birth was male. It’s one of the more controversial pieces of legislation on Utah’s Capitol Hill this session. Both sides provided passionate and emotional testimony during the committee meeting.

Rep. Kera Birkeland, who is the sponsor for H.B. 302 joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion. She talked about what prompted her to draft the bill, her arguments about why transgender athletes should not compete in female sports, and her response to concerns that the legislation could contribute to the increase in youth suicides.

Dr. Candice Metzler, Executive Director of the Transgender Education Advocates of Utah joined the discussion with the opposition’s perspective. She shared her response to the argument that physiological characters of trans athletes provide an unfair advantage over cis women, how she believes the bill could hurt transgender students who already lack a sense of belonging and inclusion in high school, and what she would say to those who feel targeted by this bill.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Rep. Birkeland and Dr. Metzler, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.