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Indiana gov. vetoes anti-trans sports bill

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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) has vetoed a bill that would have barred transgender girls from participating in school sports.

The Associated Press reported that Holcomb had supported the bill, but vetoed it because it “fell short” of having a consistent statewide policy.

Holcomb, the AP reported, said the Indiana High School Athletic Association policy covering transgender student athletes and has said it has had no trans girls finalize a request to play on a girls team.

“The presumption of the policy laid out in HEA 1041 is that there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention,” Holcomb said in his veto letter. “It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met. After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the effort overall.”

Activists with LGBTQ rights group Tri-State Alliance (TSA) were happy about the veto, but called it a hollow victory.

“Holcomb’s statement misgenders transgender students, and states that no transgender student athlete has jumped through ALL of the hurdles needed to play sports,” said Julie Robinson, TSA president. “The hurdles have been put up to make it as difficult as possible for transgender girl high school students to participate in school sports.”

Robinson also said that one of the other reasons Holcomb had for the veto was the legal action taking place in other states that have passed similar laws. While Indiana is no stranger to going to court over anti-LGBTQ laws, the governor may have been looking at the additional cost of defending the law.

The Indiana General Assembly, which is Republican controlled, could vote to overturn the veto with a simple majority. There could be an override vote as soon as May 24, according to the AP.

“We will need to work tirelessly until May 24 to plea humanity and logic to the portion of ‘moderate’ Indiana Republicans to have a slim chance,” Robinson said. She also said that could be a sign that similar efforts nationwide could be turning because of the pushback and legal issues. But activists will still lobby to prevent an override.

The Indiana Senate passed the bill 32-18 at the beginning of March. 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 bill is one of many nationwide that have been passed aiming at trans kids. Utah’s governor also vetoed a similar bill on Tuesday. Robinson said LGBTQ youth need the support.

“We need more support for local LGBTQ youth groups and resources as Indiana schools become a more hostile environment for LGBTQ students instead of a more inclusive one,” Robinson said.

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