ND lawmakers bring back ban on transgender athletes in bill, add study

Local News

A bill that would limit transgender athletes’ participation in public school sports got revived on Monday after the Senate amended it into a study.

In conference committee, four lawmakers voted to bring back a version of the ban that the House approved, and tack on the study that the Senate approved.

The newly amended bill would limit public K-12 sports to exclusively males or females, while also directing legislative management to consider studying the impacts the change would have on the state.

“It’s just an incredibly difficult issue. But I have a proposal I’d like to pass out for consideration,” Sen. Michael Dwyer said just before proposing the amendment.

It’s a piece of legislation that has some of the most diametrically opposed lawmakers, at odds.

“Transgender females are girls. They’re not boys, they’re girls,” Sen. JoNell Bakke said.

“That’s not the definition we’ll be using when it comes to exclusive sports,” Sen. Kathy Skroch said.

“I take offense at that,” Bakke said.

The committee’s Democratic duo brought up financial concerns of litigation, negative economic impacts with sporting events avoiding the state and notably, discrimination.

“I’m afraid what we’re teaching them is that discrimination is OK, intolerance is OK, prejudice is OK and that some people can be excluded whether there’s any fact base for it,” Rep. Mary Schneider said.

But the majority of Republican lawmakers said those costs were speculative, and they shouldn’t refrain from passing a bill that protects girls in sports in fear of a legal challenge.

“Let’s remind the committee that the Attorney General’s Office has often defended challenges to North Dakota statutes, and that is his job it’s nothing new,” Skroch said.

The bill would, however, allow for females to play on a male team. Now the amended version, which passed four to two, will head to both the House and Senate again for a vote.

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