A House committee failed to advance legislation that would have required high school athletes to compete under the gender assigned at their birth. It was opposed by LGBTQ groups who said that it discriminates against transgender people.
HB35 was sponsored by Congressional candidate State Representative Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) who chairs the State Government Committee.
The legislation would require public K-12 school students to use their biological gender, as it appears on their birth certificate, to determine the sporting events in which they may participate. Additionally, the bill would ban teams from using public facilities if children are competing in single-gender sporting events that don’t align with their gender identified at birth.
Rep. Pringle said that the GIRL Act is aimed at ensuring fair competition among student athletes in the state.
“Gender is real. There are biological differences between boys and girls that influence athletic performance,” Pringle said in a statement. “The GIRL Bill seeks to support female student athletes, so that they may compete against each other and not have to compete against male students with an unfair advantage.”
Pringle called the bill a common sense measure based on science saying, “Liberal Democrats are always trying to accuse us of refusing science, but gender is a real biological truth. It truly defies logic that anyone would deny science and want male students to compete in female sports.”
Pringle said that two boys in Connecticut competing as girls have dominated athletic competition there. Pringle said that it is not fair to the girls to have to compete against trans girls.
Six LGBTQ advocates spoke in opposition to the legislation.
Cassandra Williamson said that she was a former Marine and U.S. Naval Academy graduate with four children and eleven grandchildren and is a trans woman. She said that the American Medical Association, the psychiatric association and the nurses all oppose this.
A motion by Democrats to carry over the bill was defeated; but no one made a motion to give the bill a favorable report.
The Yellowhammer Fund, an abortion fund and reproductive justice organization in Alabama, commends the Alabama House Committee for its decision to shelve HB 35 the “Gender is Real Legislative (GIRL) Act which they claimed was a direct attack on transgender students in the state.
“We could not be happier to see the committee recognize that HB 35 was a divisive ‘solution’ to a non-existent problem, and one that would only further marginalize and discriminate against the trans community,” said Mia Raven, Policy Director for the Yellowhammer Fund. “All students should have the right to participate in sports with their teammates, regardless of gender identity.”
Since the committee did not actually vote down the bill, as chair, Pringle could bring back the bill at a future committee meeting.
Pringle told reporters that he was “optimistic” about the bill’s chances.
“There are always a lot of questions in our society on gender issues,” Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) said. We had expected to hear from some groups in support of the bill out of a sense of fairness.
Reporters asked the Speaker if HB35 would pass the house.
McCutcheon replied that it, “Was too early for me to be making those types of predictions.”
Chairman Pringle is a candidate for Alabama’s First Congressional District. Incumbent Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Doug Jones (D).
The Republican primary is March 3.