The North Dakota state House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that requires school athletes to participate on sports teams that correspond with their biological sex.
HB 1298 passed the state’s lower chamber 65-26 and is now slated to head to the state Senate, according to the Grand Forks Herald.
“This is about girls competing with girls, ensuring equal opportunity and keeping a level playing field in girls’ sports,” said state Rep. Kathy Skroch (R-Lidgerwood), who co-sponsored the bill. “It upholds 50 years of progress and protecting women against discrimination and advocates for the preservation of biological standards.”
The bill’s main sponsor, state Rep. Ben Koppelman (R), appealed to history and biology to support his position, arguing, “Some have said this bill just doesn’t follow the science. We’ve got science going back well before the United States that backs this. This isn’t new science. Men and women didn’t just cease to exist. They’ve existed for a long time and we’ve been able to recognize the differences.”
State House Minority Leader Josh Boschee (D) was less enthusiastic about the proposed law. “It’s about learning about yourself, being part of a team, solving problems, figuring out life. But we’re gonna tell some kids you can’t,” he said.
“And even though most [of] those kids aren’t gonna go up for high school athletics because it’s not within their skillset or desirability, they’re gonna see the action made by this body and it’s going to play into some unfortunate other decisions that they’ll make,” Boschee added.
State Rep. Mary Schneider (D-Fargo), another opponent of the bill, said, “This bill is thinly veiled prejudice under the guise of protection. This bill is fomenting fear where no problem is present. Kill this bad bill. Let’s get out of the way and let our kids play.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that the bill is discriminatory, which follows their recent threat to go after states that ban transgender athletes on sports teams.