Dozens of students protest bill affecting transgender athletes

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North Dakota students have a message for lawmakers today.

This comes after the House passed a bill to ban transgender athletes from playing on sports teams according to the gender they identify with.

They were all kids; teenagers. The next generation of North Dakota decision-makers are so frustrated with legislation, they spent the day at the Capitol, instead of in school.

Protesters made a call to action: “Don’t let this bill go any further”.

Jae Erskine is a transgender male. He says he doesn’t personally play sports, but he has classmates who are also transgender and love participating in the favorite high school past-time. Erskine says this bill would take that away from them.

“Try to take into consideration how we feel, because we may be may of the minority, but we are still a huge part and our opinions are important too,” the 11th grader from Dickinson High School said.

“Like, we should be taken seriously about our problems and how we feel about things.”

“I grew up in North Dakota,” added Truman Hamburger, also an 11th grader at Dickinson High School.

“…which is not, at times, the most welcoming place, but it’s our job to make it more welcoming.”

Hamburger was part of the planning effort for the protest through a student organization called SAND (Student Advocates of North Dakota).

“To combat mostly this bill,” he explained.

The bill would be more restrictive than a current North Dakota High School Activities Association statute that lets transgender students taking hormone treatment compete alongside the gender they identify with, in some cases.

Supporters of House Bill 1298 argue it would protect female athletes from competing against players who could be more dominant.

“It is about the rights of women and girls. Which were created under the 1972 title nine act, education amendment provisions,” Republican Representative Kathy Skroch said in the House chambers on February 11, the day the bill passed.

Student Michi Carmean says athletics have been an important outlet growing up.

“I just feel like if they take that away from us, it kind of messes with us and it’ll make us feel bad,” Carmean added.

Carmean is just beginning the process of opening up to others about identity and believes that openness and acceptance make all of the difference in allowing kids to discover themselves.

“This is kind of a big step for me. But the people that I have met and that I’ve come out to, they accept me for who I am,” Carmean shared.

House Bill 1298 passed the House last week. It now awaits review by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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