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Bill on Utah transgender athletes advances to senate

Posted at 9:17 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 23:17:09-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill facing much opposition is advancing on Capitol Hill. It’s an effort to set rules for transgender student athletes to participate in school sports.

Representative Kera Birkland originally proposed an outright ban on transgender athletes in public schools.

Now, her bill proposes a special commission to evaluate children and whether they’re eligible to participate in a sport consistent with their gender identity.

Read - Bill on Utah transgender athletes passes out of committee — but nobody's happy with it

“There’s a time and a place and a need for action at this point, because this is relevant, but inaction would also be action at this point as well and we need to do something,” said Sen. Kirk Cullimore.

In Utah, all students participating in grade or high school sports upload birth certificates. Under the bill, transgender students who apply to participate in a “gender-designated interscholastic activity” would be sent to the commission.

The idea is to look at things like height and weight to create a baseline to help the commission decide.

“I know that there are some that want to see a ban, I do not believe a ban is the right move, for many reasons, ten states have passed that and have not been able to enforce it,” said Rep. Kera Birkeland, sponsor of HB 11.

Sue Robbins with Equality Utah opposes the bill but want to continue to negotiate at the table.

“We’re talking too much about their specifics of bodies, and transgender youth have issues with their bodies, that’s part of being transgender,” said Robbins.

Time ran out before everyone who wanted to comment could do so. All but one in person opposed the bill, but for very different reasons.

“These boys will still have the anatomy of a biological boy, in any other situation it would be illegal for these kids to shower together, or stay in rooms together, but if you pass this bill, that would forever change, why would we ever do that?” said Gayle Ruzicka.

The committee voted 4-3 to pass the bill. The bill now goes to the full senate for a vote.