CHEYENNE, Wyoming (AP) — Wyoming became the 19th state to ban transgender athletes from playing on women’s or girls’ sports teams after the Republican governor chose not to veto the legislation.
Gov. Mark Gordon allowed the bill to become law without his signature Friday, saying he supports and agrees with the overall goal of fairness in competitive women’s sports. But he also said in a decision letter that the ban “is excessively draconian, is discriminatory without attention to individual circumstances or extenuating factors and pays little attention to fundamental principles of equality”.
The law, which goes into effect July 1, will ban “male students from competing on a team designated for female students.” It is among dozens of Republican proposals pushing back against transgender rights in state homes across the United States, including measures to ban gender-affirming child care, limit drag performances and prevent transgender people from using restrooms, changing rooms and other facilities associated with their gender identities.
Antonio Serrano, advocacy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming, said the latest development is shameful because it codifies discrimination.
“It’s about erasing and excluding trans people from participating in all aspects of public life,” she said. “Inclusive teams that support all athletes and encourage participation should be the standard for all school sports.”
The ACLU’s statement said the new law is unconstitutional and violates the Civil Rights Act, but the group did not indicate whether it intends to file a lawsuit. Meanwhile, Sara Burlingame, director of Wyoming Equality, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, told the Casper Star-Tribune that a lawsuit is being planned and the group has reached out to local and national groups interested in joining it.
The bill states that if the law is suspended due to a lawsuit, a five-member School Activities Commission will determine on an individual basis whether transgender students are eligible to compete in gender-specific sports that do not match their birth sex. . .
The law applies to public school students ages 7 to 12 who participate in interscholastic sports. Gordon noted in his decision letter that there are only four known transgender students competing in school athletics in the state.
“This appears to require individualized consideration, where families, students, groups and others can thoughtfully address specific circumstances, rather than such a wide-ranging punitive and ostracistic approach,” he wrote, while allowing the bill to become law. “without the benefit of my signature.
Neighboring Idaho was the first state to enact a ban on transgender sports in 2020, and other states to follow suit include Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
In Kansas, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a proposed ban for the third straight year, but the Republican-controlled legislature plans to try to override it in the coming weeks.