Senator Beth Mizell’s “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” becomes law this week after the Governor declined to veto or sign the measure. The new law, Act 283, will have the effect of prohibiting transgender females, those assigned as male at birth, from competing in traditional women’s sports.
In a June 6 letter to the President of the Louisiana Senate, Governor Edwards, who had signaled that he would veto the measure, explained his reasons. “[…] after passing this legislation overwhelmingly in two consecutive regular legislative sessions, it is clearly the will of the legislature that this bill become law.
Further, it is clear to me, both from the support for this bill and from private conversations with legislators, that Senate Bill 44 would have become law regardless of my action on it.”
Sen. Mizell’s bill passed the Senate by 32 to 6 and the House by 72 to 21. A similar effort failed, by two votes, to override the Governor’s veto in 2021.
According to the final digest, Act 283 requires an athletic team or sporting event sponsored by an elementary, secondary, or postsecondary educational institution to be designated, based upon the biological sex of team members, as only one of the following: “(1) A males, boys, or mens team or event only for students who are biological males. (2) A females, girls, or womens team or event only for students who are biological females. (3) A coeducational or mixed team or event for students who are biological males or biological females.”
Also according to the digest, nothing in new law is intended to prevent any school from implementing or maintaining a coed athletic team or sporting event which is open to both biological males and biological females so long as a female athletic team or sporting event is not disbanded for the purpose of creating a coed team or event which would thereby result to the detriment of biological female students. And also nothing in new law shall be construed to apply to an intramural athletic team or intramural sport.
In his June 6 letter, Governor Edwards expressed his feelings about the legislation. “Despite it becoming law,” he said, “I stand by my position on this issue over the last several years as it has been debated. This legislation unfairly targets vulnerable children who are already struggling with gaining acceptance in every aspect of their lives.“
“It is unconscionable.” Gov. Edwards wrote, “to have these organizations year after year continue to push the same legislation to capitalize on this issue at the expense of these children who are just trying to learn how to live their everyday lives,” he said.
“It is my sincere hope that we as a state become more educated about our transgender community and the difficult and unique challenges they face. We should strive to be better and more understanding.”
Mizell’s bill highlights the crossroads of transgender individuals’ rights and the rights of biological female athletes. The issue has galvanized both the political left and right across the country.
The American Psychological Association opposes these measures, stating, “Transgender children vary in athletic ability, just as other youth do. There is no evidence to support claims that allowing transgender student athletes to play on the team that fits their gender identity would affect the nature of the sport or competition.”
The Louisiana Psychological Association opposed the 2021 SB 156 and the Louisiana School Psychological Association labeled the 2021 bill as discriminatory saying, “SB 156 runs counter to our obligation to support all students’ dignity and privacy, particularly those with transgender and gender diverse backgrounds.”