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Gov. Reynolds pushing for law preventing transgender girls from competing in girls sports

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV) - Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is calling on state lawmakers to pass a law preventing transgender girls from competing in girls sports. Reynolds calls it an issue of fairness.

The legislation, which hasn't advanced through the Iowa House or Senate, would restrict transgender girls from taking part in girls sports. But, it would still allow them to participate in boys sports leagues.

Reynolds said this wasn't brought up during her initial Condition of the State speech earlier this year. However, she said since then there have been ongoing conversations with legislative leaders. Reynolds said they want to make sure they are taking into account where they have the authority to make the change.

"It is a fairness issue," Reynolds said. "We either have girls sports or we don't. They should have the right to qualify for scholarships. To maybe be able to help pay for their higher education experience. And that is a part of the discussions."

Iowa state law currently bans discrimination based on "gender identity," including in sports. The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, which oversees girl's middle and high school sports, said it is up to local schools to determine an athlete's gender identity. Currently, transgender athletes are allowed to play in both boys and girls sports. If an athlete's gender is disputed, IGHSA officials have the power to make a decision, though they have never had to do so.

An IGHSA official said they assume transgender athletes have competed in Iowa sports but could not say with 100% certainty.

"When school officials recognize a transgender girl is a girl during the school day, but then treat her as if she's a boy when sports practice starts, it is not just hurtful to the student," said Keenan Crow, Policy and Advocacy Director for LGBTQ support organization One Iowa."It also disrupts that school's policy of treating all kids fairly and can have some external negative consequences."

Across the country, more than 30 states, including Iowa, have introduced legislation that would bar transgender girls from competing in girls sports. Iowa's bill fell short after it did not make it past one of the funnel deadlines.

Since the transgender sports bill missed a funnel deadline, it cannot be brought up for debate and passed on its own. State lawmakers could either introduce a new bill or add it as an amendment to a different bill in the closing days of the legislative session.

"Any last-second attempts to try to shoehorn them in are not going to allow the people that are most impacted by this legislation to tell lawmakers how it impacts them," said Crow.

Blake Branch

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