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The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 2 on Monday, which targets transgender youth participating in sports. The ACLU of Oklahoma and Freedom Oklahoma lacerated the decision in statements following the vote.
“Transgender athletes have the right to participate in athletics consistent with their gender identity. Transgender girls are girls. They have a right to find a sense of belonging and to be part of a team,” said ACLU of Oklahoma Director of Policy and Advocacy Nicole McAfee. “Contrary to Representative Hasenbeck’s claims, SB 2 discriminates against individuals on the basis of sex and because they are transgender, in violation of the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.”
SB 2 enshrines transgender discrimination into state law
McAfee said the vote embeds discrimination into state law and would compromise the health, social and emotional developmenet and safety of Oklahoma’s transgender youth. Many see the legislature as making political pawns out of transgender youth in order to make a statement.
“We must not allow Oklahoma to play a part in this coordinated and national attack led by out of state actors on transgender kids,” McAfee said, calling on the legislature to vote no and to instead create policies that will “treat all people with equity, dignity, and respect.”
The bill, which still must pass the state Senate before it can be signed into law, comes amidst a trend among Republican-controlled states to enact sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation. Many see it as nothing more than a culture war.
Groups determined to oppose bill
Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Allie Shinn denounced the “dangerous” vote.
“Those Representatives acting as mouthpieces for a nationwide, coordinated attack against transgender youth are doing so against the advice of their constituents, medical experts, the NCAA, and business leaders throughout the state who know that this language is discriminatory, fiscally unsound, and dangerous for all women and girls who call Oklahoma home,” Shinn said.
Despite the overwhelming conservative majority, advocates have no intentions of backing down from their opposition to the discriminatory legislation.
“Freedom Oklahoma, along with organizational partners, the NCAA, the Oklahoma City and Tulsa Chambers of Commerce, many brave Legislators, and thousands of activists across the state, strongly supports transgender athletes and opposes any attempt by legislators to score political points at the expense of the young people, who want nothing more than to be left alone to grow up safely, knowing that they are loved and that they belong.”
At least 28 states have introduced bills that would ban or limit transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that match their gender identity. And At least four states have signed similar legislation into law. If Oklahoma’s SB 2 becomes law, many expect the NCAA to boycott the state.