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Pressure on Burgum to Veto Transgender Sports Bill

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At the North Dakota capitol this year, the transgender sports bill is among legislation that saw the most spirited debate. (Adobe Stock)
At the North Dakota capitol this year, the transgender sports bill is among legislation that saw the most spirited debate. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen - Producer, Contact
April 19, 2021

BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota's governor faces growing calls to reject legislation that would bar transgender student athletes from playing on sports teams that don't align with their birth gender.

The controversial measure, which would affect K-12 students, saw heavy opposition before clearing its final legislative hurdle last week.

LGBTQ advocates call it discriminatory and say it creates more opportunities for trans students to be bullied and harassed.

Amy Jacobson, executive director of Prairie Action ND, said there are a host of other concerns outlined during public testimony.

"One of the loudest groups that the legislature heard from was really business and tourism," Jacobson recounted.

Others calling for a veto argued the law would lead to costly litigation. Supporters of bills like this say it's about fairness in girls' sports and preventing boys from playing them.

Gov. Burgum's office did not respond to a question about whether he would veto the bill.

The measure is similar to proposals that surfaced in other states this year, including South Dakota.

Opponents like Jacobson contended all the measures do is codify discrimination, while noting supporters had difficulty producing evidence of it being an issue in school sports.

She asserted the bill was made worse by adding a provision for a study, even as the law would take effect.

"That doesn't really make much sense," Jacobson remarked. "We shouldn't put youth in danger to study how our policy impacts them."

The North Dakota High School Activities Association already has a policy that deals with this issue, which the bill's opponents said works just fine.

If the governor were to veto the bill, political observers said an override might be harder in the Senate, with last week's approval vote being relatively close.

Disclosure: Prairie Action ND contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Human Rights/Racial Justice, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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