WASHINGTON (Reuters)—The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a Republican bill intended to ban transgender women and girls from competing in women’s and girls’ school sports, delivering at least a short-term victory to social conservatives.
The House passed the measure by 219-203 but it has little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate. President Joe Biden has also voiced his opposition to the bill, calling it discriminatory, and has vowed to veto it if needed.
Still, the vote was a win for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who hopes to keep his narrow Republican majority unified, as a fight over raising the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling and federal government funding looms.
If passed, the bill would change the civil rights law known as Title IX to require that a student’s sex be “based on an individual’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
Enacted in 1972, Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities that receive federal funding. It was created to ensure equal opportunity for participation and opened the door for more women in sports.
“Democrats have regressed so far backwards they are willing to erase the rights that women have fought decades to obtain, all to elevate biological males to the top of women’s podiums. The integrity of women’s sports must be protected,” Republican Representative Greg Steube, who introduced the bill, said on Wednesday.
Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal, who said during Wednesday’s debate that she is raising a transgender daughter, said, “This bill fuels a virulent hate campaign against kids who just want to play with their friends.”
The White House on Monday said the bill would effectively deny access to sports for transgender students, even at the elementary school level.
Republicans over the past year have stepped up their focus on transgender youth. On Wednesday, Florida education officials voted to ban classroom instruction on gender identity and social orientation in public schools through high school. That expanded on a law signed by likely Republican presidential candidate Governor Ron DeSantis, which had banned such lessons for younger students and was derided by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The Biden administration proposed a rule change to Title IX on April 6 that would prohibit schools from banning transgender athletes from playing on teams consistent with their gender identities, with exceptions possible for the highest levels of competition.
(Reporting by Katharine Jackson; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell)
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