Bill banning transgender athletes from girls school sports passes Utah House

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A bill that bans transgender athletes from participating in girls’ sports in public schools passed through the Utah House of Representatives on Wednesday.

House Bill 302, sponsored by Rep. Kera Birkeland, (R) Morgan, passed through the House with a 50-to-23 vote.

According to the bill, public schools must designate specific sports based on sex and would prohibit any athlete of the male sex from participating in a sport designated for females.

While speaking on the House floor, Rep. Birkeland said, “women’s sports matter in Utah. They matter to me and they matter to every parent of young girls and they matter to every athlete out there trying their best.”

Utah House Democrats released a statement criticizing the passing of the bill, saying:

“The passage of H.B. 302 from the House today needlessly targets youth who are already marginalized and vulnerable to mental anguish and suicide.  This bill also exposes Utah to time-consuming and expensive lawsuits and bad publicity.  To discriminate against transgender female athletes in Utah’s K-12 school sports is bad policy and reflects poorly on our entire state.  If this bill is enacted, Utah may lose out on collegiate championships, the NBA All-Star game, and the winter Olympics as well as the economic and reputational opportunities that come with hosting. 

‘The legislation is also likely unconstitutional under the Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution and Utah State Constitution.  The bill runs contrary to the spirit of our state’s shared values against discrimination and equal opportunity, and it exposes Utah to millions of dollars in legal fees.  The Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) already has rules and standards in place to address these extraordinarily rare cases, as does the NCAA.  Instead of persecuting kids who deserve our love and support, just let them play sports and let us get back to issues that benefit our constituents.”

The bill will now move onto the Utah Senate.

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 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...