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House to vote on anti-trans sports bill

People attend a rally as part of a Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, 2023, by the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(CNN) — The House is expected to vote Thursday on a GOP-led bill that would ban transgender athletes from women’s and girls’ sports at federally funded schools and educational institutions.

The bill is not expected to be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House has issued a veto threat. But the vote shows that Republicans are working to spotlight the issue — and it comes amid a GOP-led push in states across the country to pass similar bills restricting transgender athletes’ participation in sports.

The House bill would prohibit transgender women and girls from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity. It seeks to amend federal law to require that “sex shall be recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth,” for the purpose of determining compliance with Title IX in athletics, according to the legislative text.

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive funding from the federal government, and applies to schools and other educational institutions.

The bill would not “prohibit schools or institutions from permitting males to practice against women’s sports teams,” according to a fact sheet from the House committee on Education and the Workforce.

The fact sheet also states that under the bill, “a recipient of federal education funding violates Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination if the recipient operates, sponsors, or facilitates athletic programs or activities and allows a person whose sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.”

The bill — titled the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act” — was introduced by Republican Rep. Greg Steube of Florida.

Republicans have argued that transgender women hold a physical advantage over cisgender women in sports and thus their participation could consequentially limit opportunities for others.

Democrats say that policies to restrict transgender athletes’ participation in team sports adds to the discrimination that trans people face, particularly trans youth. And they argue that Republicans are seeking to undermine the rights of LGBTQIA students by advancing the bill.

“Trans kids deserve the right to be equal members of their school communities, learn sportsmanship, and challenge themselves outside of the classroom, including by participating in school sports,” Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin said in a statement.

The House vote takes place as GOP-led states across the country continue to push a variety of anti-trans measures, including bills intended to keep transgender students from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

Those bills echo a larger effort of restrictive bills aimed at the LGBTQIA community. The American Civil Liberties Union says that it is tracking more than 450 anti-LGBTQ bills in the US.

The White House has affirmed that President Joe Biden would veto the bill, even though it is not expected to make it to the president’s desk.

“Discrimination has no place in our nation’s schools or on our playing fields,” the statement of administration policy for the bill reads.

“At a time when transgender youth already face a nationwide mental health crisis, with half of transgender youth in a recent survey saying they have seriously considered suicide, a national law that further stigmatizes these children is completely unnecessary, hurts families and students, and would only put students at greater risk,” it says.

Responding to the White House veto threat on Twitter, Steube said that the Biden administration “has turned their backs on female athletes.”

“The Left is not only encouraging transgender individuals to invade women’s sports, but they celebrate as women are knocked off podiums and shunned to the sidelines. Nothing fair about that,” Steube wrote.

In addition to promising a veto, the Biden administration has taken other steps to address transgender athletes’ participation in sports.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration proposed a new federal rule change that would allow for schools to enforce some restrictions on transgender student athletes, but opposes policies that “categorically” ban those students from participating on sports teams consistent with their gender.