Oklahoma City ( Associated Press) — Republican governors in Oklahoma and Arizona signed into law bills Wednesday that ban transgender girls and women from competing on women’s sports teams, joining more than a dozen other states with similar laws. Huh.
More than two dozen young female athletes participated, including her 14-year-old daughter Piper, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed off on the measure, dubbed the “Save the Women’s Sports Act”.
“This bill, the Save Women’s Sports Act in Oklahoma, is just common sense to us,” said Stitt, a first-time Republican running for re-election. “When it comes to sports and athletics, girls should compete against girls. Boys should compete against boys. And let’s be very clear: That’s what this bill says.”
Until two years ago, no state had passed a law regulating gender-specified youth sports. But the issue has become front and center in Republican-led state houses since Idaho lawmakers passed the nation’s first sports participation law in 2020. That law is now blocked in court, along with another law in West Virginia.
The Oklahoma bill, which took effect immediately with the governor’s signature, applies to women’s sports teams in both high school and college.
The new law was quickly panned by civil rights groups as unnecessarily targeting an already marginalized group of people.
“Transgender people are everywhere, but with a pen and a public display, Governor Stitt has sent a clear message to the vulnerable transgender youth of Oklahoma that they are not welcome or accepted in our state,” said Tamya Cox-Tourre, Executive Director of the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Ultimately, SB2 violates the United States Constitution and federal civil rights law, puts Oklahoma at risk of losing federal funding, and harms transgender youth, all to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Is.”
Oklahoma’s governing body for high school sports, the Oklahoma Secondary School Activity Association, has had a policy since 2015 addressing the participation of transgender athletes in sports, but OSSAA spokesman Van Shea Even said no school has ever Also a male has not requested to implement the policy. Infection of female student.
There are also some transgender athletes in Arizona schools. According to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, since 2017, about 16 trans athletes have been exempt to play on teams that align with their gender identity, out of about 170,000 high school athletes in the state.
Outside the room where Stitt signed the bill, 26-year-old Kara Kleber, who is transgender, held up a sign that read: “How does it feel to see kids who are bullied need support?”
“They won’t stop trans kids from playing sports, having fun, or living their lives,” Kleber said. “What are they going to do with this bill, tell them they’re not invited into the spaces and among everyone else, that they’re not equal, that they don’t love, they don’t care.”
In Oklahoma, many supporters of the measure said they were convinced to vote for it when University of Pennsylvania swimmer Leah Thomas, a trans woman, won a title at the national NCAA Women’s Division I championships earlier this month.
Some opponents had raised concerns about the NCAA pulling sports tournaments from Oklahoma, including the Women’s College World Series, held each year in Oklahoma City, but Stitt said he was not concerned.
“We’re not worried about it, because we know that Oklahomaans are with us and most Americans are with us too,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, Ducey signed off on a measure outlawing abortion after 15 weeks if the US Supreme Court allows it. The Arizona abortion law refers to a Mississippi law now being considered by the nation’s High Court. The bill explicitly states that it does not supersede state law for more than 100 years that would have banned abortion outright if the Supreme Court ruled in the 1973 case Roe v. Wade, which had established the right to abortion in law.
Associated Press writers Bob Christie and Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix contributed to this report.