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Senate approves bill banning transgender girls from girls’ K-12 sports teams

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Senate has passed a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in girls’ K-12 sports teams.

The measure passed 32-18.

Last week, Senate Republicans defeated multiple attempts to change the bill, according to News 8’s Garrett Bergquist.

Tuesday’s vote capped more than a month of some of the most intense debate of this year’s legislative session.

At hearings in both chambers, Hoosiers, including many who are transgender or are parents of transgender children, lined up for hours to testify against the bill, saying it amounted to legalized discrimination. A smaller number of parents testified in favor, saying they wanted their daughters to face a level playing field.

Those arguments played out again on the Senate floor on Tuesday. Sen. Stacey Donato, R-Logansport, who sponsored the bill in the upper chamber, said her aim was to protect the integrity of girls’ sports, nothing more.

“This bill is simply about protecting fair competition in girls’ sports,” Donato said. “Federal anti-discrimination laws, or Title IX, have long recognized that it is reasonable to give boys and girls separate athletic opportunities in school because of biological differences that give boys an edge in many sports.”

Several Democrats pressed Donato on the reasoning behind the bill, her views on transgender people and the potential impacts of the legislation. Donato repeatedly did not answer their questions directly, instead repeating that the bill is about the integrity of girls’ sports.

Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis, spoke against the bill for more than half an hour. Ford, who is the only openly LGBT member of the General Assembly, recalled his own struggles growing up.

“I did not choose this life,” Ford said. “Why in the world would I subject myself to names, being harassed, or even being bullied? Why would I choose that? I didn’t choose that. These kids aren’t choosing this. It’s who I am and it’s who they are.”

The bill now heads to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk. Holcomb has indicated he supports the bill, though he told reporters last week he would review the bill carefully before deciding whether to sign it.

The ACLU has already said it plans to sue if the bill becomes law.