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March 1, 2021

Utah House passes ban on transgender athletes in girls sports after heated debate

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah bill to bar transgender girls from playing sports on girls teams at K-12 schools passed the House on Wednesday after a heated debate.

“Women’s sports matter in Utah. They matter to me, and they matter to every parent of young girls, and they matter to every young athlete trying their best,” said bill sponsor Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan.

HB302, titled Preserving Sports for Female Students, would require public schools to designate athletic activities by sex. It would prohibit a student of the “male sex” from participating in athletic activities designated for female students.

Birkeland introduced a new version of the bill Wednesday that clarifies schools could only be held legally responsible under the law if they knowingly and willingly violate it.

The bill passed 50-23 after those in support said it’s needed to ensure fairness for female athletes, and those against it expressed fears of unconstitutionality and potential economic ramifications to the state should the bill become law.

It will move to the Senate for consideration.

This story will be updated.

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Ashley Imlay

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