At the close of Indiana’s 2022 legislative session, Hoosier lawmakers had many reasons to celebrate. Before adjourning, legislators passed a series of bills ranging from tax cuts to constitutional carry.
Included in those final bills was House Bill 1041, which prevents transgender girls from participating in female sports at public schools. The bill’s author, State Rep. Michelle Davis, R-Greenwood, crafted the legislation to ensure fair competition amongs Indiana’s female athletes.
Before a vote in the House of Representatives, Davis urged lawmakers to “protect fair competition” for female athletes so they could enjoy every opportunity available to them to be the “best at their sport.”
After passing the Indiana House of Representatives and Senate by sizeable margins, the bill met its doom at the hands of Gov. Eric Holcomb, a self-described “conservative Republican.” Mr. Holcomb vetoed the bill, writing to lawmakers that “the presumption of the policy laid out in H.B. 1041 is that there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention.”
Mr. Holcomb added, “It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met,” concluding that he found “no evidence to support either claim.”
In other words, instead of being proactive and protecting Title IX and fairness in women’s athletics, Indiana legislators should wait until it does become an issue. And there isn’t a reason to think that it won’t be in the future.
If you don’t believe me, look no further than Connecticut. The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) started allowing transgender athletes to compete in female sports, and it has created an unfair playing field ever since, especially when it comes to track and field.
Throughout the 2017-19 seasons, two biological males who competed in girls’ track claimed 15 women’s state track championships. They also cost nearly 100 girls the opportunity to compete in upper-level competitions, eliminating them from consideration for college scholarships.
When a group of affected athletes tried to test CIAC’s policy in the courts, their challenge was dismissed. The legislation put forward in Indiana effectively prohibits the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) from ever considering such a move, adding an extra measure of protection in the state’s statutes for female athletes across the Hoosier State.
In his veto, Gov. Holcomb also cited pricey litigation that could result from the passage of H.B. 1041. Yet Mr. Holcomb has spent thousands of taxpayer dollars fighting other types of legislation, most notably a recent law that allows Indiana lawmakers to call themselves into special session during emergencies. Given this, it seems that Mr. Holcomb prefers to cherry-pick which battles are worthy of taxpayer funds.
And there’s another reason H.B. 1041 should have passed. A clear majority of Hoosiers support the legislation. According to a survey conducted by SPRY Strategies for the American Principles Project, 53.1% of likely voters disapprove of Gov. Holcomb’s veto, with 64.5% of those surveyed supporting legislative measures like H.B. 1041.
To date, 16 states have passed laws to protect women’s sports, and dozens more are considering similar pieces of legislation to that of H.B. 1041.
Lawmakers in these states are not bigots or trying to silence transgender kids. They simply recognize that biological men have a built-in advantage over biological women when it comes to athletics.
Case in point: American runner Allyson Felix is the fastest female sprinter in the world. In fact, she has more Olympic gold medals to her name than Usain Bolt. But based on 2018 figures, nearly 300 high-school boys just in the United States could beat her record 400-meter run!
Mr. Holcomb is term-limited and cannot seek re-election in 2024 for another term as governor. Throughout his tenure, he has done many things to better the lives of Hoosiers.
Why not add to this legacy by championing Indiana’s female athletes? Why not ensure that women’s sports in Indiana remain fair?
Lucky for Hoosiers, lawmakers ultimately voted to override Gov. Holcomb’s veto. These legislators deserve credit.
They protected women’s sports, and did something far more meaningful in the process: They championed fairness and upheld common sense, something the governor failed to do.
Jacob Lane is a Republican strategist and school choice activist. He has worked for GOP campaigns at the federal, state and local levels, as well as with various PACs and non-profits. Read Jacob Lane's Reports — More Here.
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