Louisiana gov faces decision on transgender athlete bill

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Transgender Athletes Louisiana (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Transgender Athletes Louisiana (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A bill to keep transgender women and girls in Louisiana from competing on college and K-12 women’s and girls’ athletic teams won final legislative passage Monday in the state Senate, meaning Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has been critical of the measure, will have to decide whether to veto it.

The Democratic governor vetoed similar legislation last year. The Senate voted to override, but the override effort fell two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed in the House.

The bill has passed in both chambers this year with more than enough votes to override a veto, should Edwards decide to issue one. Edwards has consistently declined to say whether he will veto the bill this time.

Monday's 32-6 Senate vote at the Capitol in Baton Rouge was to approve a House change that removed intramural sports from the bill.

On his radio show last week, Edwards said deleting intramural competition from the measure was significant, but he refused to say whether he would veto the bill again.

“I still believe it’s unnecessary,” Edwards said, doubling down on earlier criticism.

Backers of the bill by Sen. Beth Mizell, a Franklinton Republican, say the law is needed to ensure that girls and women are not unfairly edged out of athletic scholarship opportunities by athletes who are biologically male.

Since last year's vote, Lia Thomas, a transgender woman, won an NCAA women’s swimming championship. The University of Pennsylvania senior’s victory has been cited repeatedly during the current legislative session by supporters of Mizell’s legislation who say athletes born male have a biological advantage in women’s sports.

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