Going against Republican leanings, Indiana governor vetoes transgender sports bill

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb on Monday vetoed a bill that would have banned transgender girls from participating in school-sanctioned girl’s sports, taking a very different approach to the issue than 11 other Republican governors. who signed similar measures this year.

Mr Holcomb said the bill, known as HEA 1041, would likely have been challenged in court. He also questioned whether it solved an urgent problem, writing in a letter to lawmakers that “the presumption of the policy set forth in HEA 1041 is that there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires intervention. additional from the state government. ”

“It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in women’s competitive sports are currently not being achieved,” the governor added in his letter. “After extensive review, I find no evidence to support either claim, although I support the overall objective.”

The sport participation of transgender girls and women has become an increasingly contentious topic among political leaders and sports sanctioning groups, who have struggled to address the issue in a way that respects transgender athletes and responds to concerns raised by some critics. on competitive fairness. Last week, Lia Thomas, a member of the University of Pennsylvania women’s swim team, became the first openly transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming title.

Since 2019, state lawmakers across the country have introduced dozens of bills banning transgender youth from participating in school sports on teams consistent with their identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group.

In October, Texas became the most populous state to ban transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports in public schools. This year, Republican governors signed similar measures into law in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

The bill in Indiana, where the Republican-controlled legislature passed it with comfortable margins, was cheered by some conservatives in the state. After it was passed, Republican State Attorney General Todd Rokita called it “an important step in protecting youth sports” and vowed to defend it in court if signed into law.

Democrats and transgender activists have widely criticized the rush of legislation as cruel and unnecessary. Some of them praised Mr. Holcomb for his veto, even as they feared Indiana lawmakers might overturn it.

“Governor Holcomb did the right thing tonight by vetoing a bill that would only cause problems, not solve them, targeting Indiana’s transgender children and making them targets of exclusion and discrimination in their own schools,” said Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director. and Senior Advocate for the Human Rights Campaign.

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