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Mizell: There’s nothing fair about transgenders in girls sports

This week, my fellow legislators and I have a historic opportunity to build upon the successes of the women’s rights movement and Title IX by enacting the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which I sponsored. To do so, we must override a governor’s veto for the first time since 1974. And this is the year to do it if we are to prevent Louisiana women and girls from being erased off the podium in sports.

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act protects opportunities for female athletes by ensuring they are not forced to compete against males in women’s sports. Across the country, we have seen increasing numbers of men competing on female sports teams, resulting in women and girls losing spots on the podium and missing opportunities that come with advanced levels of athletic competition.

In his statement announcing the veto of this bill, Gov. Edwards asserted that “discrimination is not a Louisiana value” — and he’s right. However, by vetoing this important legislation, Gov. Edwards signaled his support for discrimination against women and girls.

Just look at what happened in Connecticut. Two male athletes were allowed to compete on a women’s high school track and field team, and they immediately dominated their female competition. After two years of competing on the women’s team, they captured 15 women’s high school track and field championships that were once held by nine different girls.

I ask Gov. Edwards: how is this not discrimination?

Common sense and science tell us that males are stronger and faster than comparably fit and trained females. Women need athletic teams that are based on biological sex in order to have access to the opportunities that come with excelling in their sport. When we deny biological reality, we return to the playing field that existed before Title IX, where women faced discrimination and unequal opportunities in athletics.

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act passed both chambers of our legislature with overwhelming majorities and received support from both sides of the aisle, with 50 fellow legislators as co-authors. In other words, there is a clear understanding among legislators from all corners of Louisiana that women deserve a level playing field.

And yet, Gov. Edwards vetoed this legislation, jeopardizing the protection of our women and girls in favor of partisan politics and corporate interests.

In his veto statement, the governor went so far as to explicitly acknowledge the role of the NCAA’s threat to pull events from states with this legislation in his decision to veto the bill. Instead of standing for our women and girls, Gov. Edwards bowed to the NCAA — an act made all the more absurd by the fact that the NCAA has not followed through on this threat.

Eight states have passed similar legislation, and last month Louisiana should have been the ninth. Thankfully, we still can be.

The female athletes across the country that have lost to men can never get those championships back; they can never get their spot on the podium back; they can never get the chance to advance to the next round of competition that was lost to them. Louisiana’s women and girls deserve better.

We cannot let another sports season go by without this vital legislation. I urge our legislature to override the governor’s veto of the Fairness and Women’s Sports Act.

State Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, represents District 12 in the Lousiana State Senate.