Indiana has sent its bill that would bar transgender people from competing in school sports that match their gender identity to the governor.
The Associated Press reported that the Indiana Senate voted 32-18 to send the bill to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb. Holcomb said last week that he would wait to see the final version before making a decision to sign the bill. If he does sign the bill, Indiana would be the tenth GOP-led state to pass such a law.
Bill sponsors have said the law is to “protect the integrity of female sports.” Opponents have said it targets trans kids and its just to “score political points” in conservative areas. The AP reported that the ACLU of Indiana has already planned a lawsuit to block the bill.
“This cruel bill denies transgender girls the right to play K-12 school sports and sends a message that they don’t deserve equal opportunities as their peers,” the state ACLU said in a Facebook post. “HB 1041 flies in the face of the doctors, educators, athletes, therapists, women’s rights advocates and more who voiced their opposition – and the federal courts that have blocked similar legislation for violating the Constitution and Title IX.”
The bill had included college sports in its original version. That provision was removed before moving out of the Indiana House.
Wally Paynter, former president of the Tri-State Alliance (TSA) in Evansville, said the bill was a bad piece of legislation that will likely be signed into law.
“When the Indiana high school athletic association was asked for feedback, they noted that this would impact one student athlete out of 60,000 student athletes in Indiana high schools,” Paynter said. “What it also does is send a message to transgender students that they are not welcome in Indiana high schools. It will make high schools less safe and less welcoming to the students, and will increase the dropout rates and potentially increase the risk of suicide of transgender students.”
A study released by The Trevor Project in January found that acceptance of people’s gender identity from adults and peers reduced the chance of suicide by 33%.
Paynter said that thanks to gerrymandering, Republicans have a supermajority in the General Assembly. This means the only conflict was between the social conservative and traditional Republicans, the vast majority of which voted for the bill. And the Hoosier LGBTQ community is vulnerable to such bills. The only rights group in the state is the TSA, which is largely focused on the tri-state area of southwestern Indiana, southeastern Illinois and western Kentucky.
“One of the weaknesses of the Indiana LGBTQIA population in Indiana is that we no longer have a statewide civil rights group run by the LGBTQIA population and our leaders,” Paynter said. “In the past we had coalitions that worked to mobilize local communities and diverse constituents. Without a statewide group, it is much more difficult to push back against anti-Transgender legislation.”
The TSA is calling on people to contact Holcomb by email at [email protected], phone at (317) 232-4567, or comment on his feedback form at https://www.in.gov/gov/ask-eric/ and tell him why the bill should be vetoed.