LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus condemns bill that discriminates against athletes

HARRISBURG, Aug. 4 – A bill that would discriminate against LGBTQ+ students by restricting their ability to participate in their school’s sports programs as the gender they identify with was condemned by the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus after a House Education Committee hearing on the proposed Republican legislation, according to the caucus’ co-chair, state Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila.

House Bill 972 would prohibit trans girls and women from playing scholastic and collegiate sports.

“Republicans are again advocating for open discrimination against LGBTQ+ youth masked as a bill to protect girls and women,” Sims said. “As a former collegiate athlete, I know that LGBTQ+ kids, like all kids, see countless positive outcomes from engagement in sports. The opportunity to build skills, foster friendships and learn to work as a team are essential in development, especially for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable population, trans kids. The trans community is at higher risk of being victims of assault and experiencing depression, anxiety and, tragically, suicide. The fact that the majority party would aim to subject trans and non-binary youth to further exclusion and harassment is sickening and it is also illegal. We should be striving for inclusion in Pennsylvania, not sending a message of hate to LGBTQ+ youth and their families.”

“Republican leaders are holding a hearing on a pretend issue and on a bill that stands zero chance of becoming law after years of refusing to take up legislation that would provide basic non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ individuals,” said caucus co-chair, state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny. “I believe this is terrible policy, but it’s also bad politics. The vast majority of Pennsylvanians want their LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors included and protected by law.”

“As a former athletic trainer, I have long sought to elevate and celebrate diversity on sports teams,” said caucus co-chair, state Sen. Katie Muth, D-Berks/Chester/Montgomery. “Today’s hearing on H.B. 972 is not only a sham, but it is fiscally irresponsible and motivated by political agendas. The majority party is abusing their power by calling for committee hearings to produce cruel legislation. It is unacceptable to attack children and athletes and force government mandates based on harmful ideological views. We stand with all of our trans athletes and trans individuals across Pennsylvania, and we won’t stand for their harmful agenda to be entertained or advanced.”

“House Bill 972 is a solution in search of a problem,” said caucus member and Education Committee member state Rep. Mary Isaacson, D-Phila. “There are real issues with gender parity in sports when it comes to funding, resources, pay equity and more. Promoting baseless fears about trans athletes does nothing to address those real problems. Instead, it jeopardizes athletes’ mental health due to increased scrutiny and open discrimination.”

“House Bill 972 not only attacks transgender youth, but it also adversely impacts any athlete who is gender-nonconforming,” said state Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, also a caucus and committee member. “Any student’s physical characteristics or abilities could be questioned, opening up all athletes to further harassment, bullying and even invasive exams or tests to prove their gender. This policy does not protect women in sports, it subjects LGBTQ+ athletes to unnecessary, invasive and humiliating scrutiny.”

“Trans people of all ages have been participating in sports consistent with their gender at all levels for years, and we simply have not seen any dominance by trans athletes,” said caucus and committee member state Rep. Mike Zabel, D-Delaware. “Athletic success is based on many disparate factors that vary sport to sport and being transgender does not give girls who are trans an inherent advantage. This unconstitutional and discriminatory legislation seeks to impose rules far more strict than current NCAA rules and only causes harm to Pennsylvania youth.”

The Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus a bipartisan and bicameral caucus made up of members of the General Assembly who advocate for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer residents. It was formed in 2011 by state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, to fend off attacks on and fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Since that time, the General Assembly and the caucus have come to include three out members, including Sims, state Rep. Malcom Kenyatta, D-Phila., and first-term state Rep. Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny.