With surprisingly little discussion or outrage, the Alabama House Education Committee advanced a bill that would prohibit transgender athletes from competing on sports teams at 2- and 4-year colleges in the state.
There have been zero instances of such an occurrence in the state and numerous rules and regulations within college sports’ governing bodies already appropriately restrict male and female sports events. Nevertheless, the issue remains a popular one among lawmakers on the right.
This bill, HB261, carried by Rep. Susan DuBose, purports to “protect women’s sports and female athletes.” DuBose said during the committee meeting that other states have passed similar laws and have suffered “no consequences whatsoever.”
That, of course, is untrue. Every state that has passed restrictions on transgender athletes is currently facing legal action in federal court.
Additionally, DuBose noted that no state has faced repercussions from the NCAA, which promised to remove NCAA championships from states with such bans. However, that’s because the NCAA has been awaiting a decision from the Biden administration on new Title IX guidelines that specifically address transgender athletes. Those proposed guidelines were released last week, and while they offer schools some flexibility in restricting transgender athletes, a ban such as the one presented in DuBose’s bill could leave state colleges in violation of federal law.
Former Rep. Patricia Todd, Alabama’s first openly gay lawmaker and chair of the nonprofit Alabama Equality, noted that there have been just 32 instances of transgender athletes competing in college sports. There are currently more than 480,000 NCAA athletes.
“This is a bill that is in search of a problem,” Todd said in a statement. “Having served in the Alabama House of Representatives for 12 years, I have witnessed legislators introducing bills that may boost their popularity in their district. The sponsor is a freshman legislator representing part of Jefferson County. Surely there are real issues in her district that need her attention and we would question how many transgender students are playing on school sports teams in her district. Our guess is NONE.”
At a public hearing on the bill Tuesday, several paid political operatives spoke in favor of the bill, including a member of Talking Point USA who said she was a former athlete. While speaking in favor of the bill and pushing to keep transgender students off of sports teams, she spoke of her experiences playing high school and college athletics, saying that sports were her “happy place” and noting their importance in helping young people find happiness and acceptance. The irony was not noticed.
The bill received a favorable report out of committee on a voice vote.