Education Kentucky Politics

The Kentucky state Senate has passed a bill banning transgender girls from playing on girls sports teams in middle and high school. The measure now heads to the House, where a GOP-led committee has already approved a similar bill.

The bill, from Henderson Republican Sen. Robby Mills, mandates the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) create regulations that require members of girls and women’s teams be listed as female on their birth certificates.

Mills said he is concerned about transgender girls having an advantage over cisgender girls in competition, though he could not point to any such scenario happening in Kentucky.

His bill originally would have applied to all grade levels K-12. But on the floor, senators accepted an amendment from Louisville Democratic Sen. Karen Berg that limited the effect of the measure to grades 6-12.

Opponents say the measure is discriminatory. Berg, who has a transgender son, called the measure “hurtful.” She said the proposal would mean transgender girls “will not have a team to participate in.”

“But more importantly, it makes them feel like they will not be included on purpose—on purpose, you are excluding these children,” she said.

The measure passed 27-8, mostly along party lines, with two Democrats joining Republicans in support: Democratic Sen. Dennis Parrett of Elizabethtown and Democratic Sen. Robin Webb of Grayson, in eastern Kentucky, and two Republicans voting against the bill.

“I did discus and shot put in high school, and I don’t think I would have the records that I had, and the offers that I had, if I was competing against a biologically male counterpart,” Webb said. 

Many supporters of the legislation referred to transgender girls as “biological males.”

Republican Sen. Jason Howell of Murray and Republican Sen. Wil Schroder of Wilder, in northern Kentucky, joined Democrats in opposing the bill.

Schroder said he was against delving into the purview of the KHSAA, which already prohibits most trans girls from playing on high school girls sports teams.

Republicans across the country are pushing similar measures in dozens of states. A federal judge blocked the ban from going into effect in Idaho while the court considers a lawsuit brought by civil rights groups.

 

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.