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Tipsheet

GA Senate Passes Bill Barring Students from Competing on Sports Teams Not Consistent with Biological Sex

AP Photo/Robin Rayne

The Georgia Senate passed a bill that would ban student-athletes from competing on sports teams that do not align with their biological sex.

SB 435, also known as the Save Girls' Sports Act, passed Thursday in a 34-24 largely party-line vote.

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The bill would prohibit school sports teams with transgender athletes from competing against other teams in the state in an effort to preserve "the fairness of sports."

"No local public school system, public school, or participating private school in this state shall operate, sponsor, or facilitate interscholastic or intramural athletics" that allows male athletes to "participate in any interscholastic or intramural athletics that are designated for females," the bills reads, similarly adding that such schools would also be banned from allowing female athletes to "participate in any interscholastic or intramural athletics that are designated for males."

The legislation allows exceptions in cases where "there is not an equivalent interscholastic or intramural athletic program" for a student athlete's biological sex.

The bill would also allow grievance complaints to be filed against schools that fail to comply.

Republican lawmakers argued that it is unfair for biological girls to have to compete against biological boys and explained that separating athletes by gender ensures fairness.

"Forcing girls to play against biological boys inhibits the ability of young girls to win competitions, achieve scholarships and achieve the highest level of success," state Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone Republican) said on the Senate floor Thursday.

Democrats, however, took issue with the legislation, with state Sen. Sally Harrell (D-Atlanta), who is the mother of a transgender child, urging her colleagues to not "move so fast, because this is hurting our kids" during her remarks on the Senate floor.

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And Georgia's Democratic Party slammed the bill following its passage, claiming it is a piece of "extreme legislation."

"It's absolutely despicable that Georgia Republicans are attacking kids for political gain," spokesperson Rebecca Galanti said in a statement. "This hateful bill is a dangerous ploy to rally political support in an election year by demonizing Georgia’s transgender community and threatening kids and teenagers’ wellbeing."

The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled House, where it is expected to be passed. The bill would then go to Gov. Brian Kemp's (R) desk to be signed into law. The governor has previously indicated his support for the bill and likely would sign it once it passes the House.

Kemp said in his State of the State speech last month that he would "strongly support [legislation] to ensure fairness in school sports."

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