Joining in a topic attracting increasing attention, Utah Sen. Mike Lee introduced legislation to ban transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports.
“When transgender athletes compete against women, women’s sports are no longer women’s sports,” Lee said on Friday. “They become unisex athletic events.”
He added that his bill, called the Protect Women and Girls in Sports Act, “would protect the opportunity of girls throughout America to athletically compete against other girls.”
Thirteen other senators co-sponsored the bill as it was introduced.
It comes after President Joe Biden signed an executive order designed to allow equal transgender participation in school sports.
Earlier this week, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., made headlines in the confirmation hearing for secretary of education nominee Miguel Cardona by criticizing his support to allow transgender youth to participate in girls’ sports.
As Romney spoke then by video with pictures of his grandchildren in the background, he said, “They shouldn’t be competing with people who are physiologically in an entirely different category. And I think boys should be competing with boys and girls should be competing with [girls] on the athletic field.”
Also in the Utah Legislature this week, Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, a junior varsity basketball coach, introduced HB302, which would exclude transgender girls from competing in female sports in colleges and public and private grade schools — a move that LGBTQ advocates say would alienate young people who are already at higher risk of suicide.
Candice Metzler, executive director of the Transgender Education Advocates of Utah, said in a recent interview that she fears such legislation would add “to the despair” transgender youth already experience.
“This is just adding stigma and really demonstrates in my opinion why we see so much bullying in our high schools towards kids who are different,” she said.
However on Friday, Lee lined up many comments of support for barring transgender athletes from girls’ sports from his co-sponsors and outside groups.
“As a doctor and former coach, I find it un-American to allow biological boys to compete against biological girls when it comes to athletics,” said Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan. “Letting biological boys compete in biological girls’ high school and college sports is not equal, it doesn’t level the playing field and it’s certainly not fair.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said, “Regardless of political correctness, Congress should support fair athletic competition and opportunity for girls and boys alike.”
Lee said that among the mostly conservative groups supporting Lee’s bill were Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, Save Women’s Sports, Heritage Action for America, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Family Policy Alliance.
The group Save Women’s Sports issued a statement saying, “In the realm of sports, it is obviously unethical to allow a male athlete to compete against female athletes. The advantages enjoyed by the male body result in a blatant disadvantage for female athletes.”