In this file photo, HB2 protestors gather across the street from the North Carolina state legislative building in 2016. The bill cost the state billions in economic activity, but lawmakers put forth an anti-transgender bill this week focused on middle and high school sports.  (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call) HB2 in North Carolina
In this file photo, HB2 protestors gather across the street from the North Carolina state legislative building in 2016. The bill cost the state billions in economic activity, but lawmakers put forth an anti-transgender bill this week focused on middle and high school sports. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The inappropriately titled ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ wants to police transgender athletes’ participation in middle and high school sports. 

North Carolina’s economy is still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. North Carolina schools are in the midst of a herculean reopening for in-person instruction

And some Republican members of the state legislature are intent on revisiting the anti-transgender politics of House Bill 2, a widely-disparaged 2016 law that cost the state an estimated $3.7 billion in economic activity

House Bill 358, the inappropriately titled “Save Women’s Sports Act,” was introduced Monday and reported on Tuesday afternoon at WRAL. It would restrict middle and high school students’ participation in sports to their birth gender. The legislation was sponsored by state representatives Mark Brody, Pat McElraft, Diane Wheatley, and Jimmy Dixon. 

It’s unclear what prompted the divisive legislation, but the bill says “having separate sex-specific teams furthers efforts to promote sex equality.” It also argues that “sex-specific teams accomplish this by providing opportunities for female athletes to demonstrate their skill, strength, and athletic abilities while also providing them with opportunities to obtain recognition and accolades, college scholarships, and the numerous other long-term benefits that flow from success in athletic endeavors.” 

In other words, lawmakers say this legislation is about women’s equality, not transgender inequality. That might not be a convincing argument from a North Carolina legislature that spent a lot of time, money, and social capital on HB2, a bill that in addition to its anti-trans bathroom rules also barred local governments from creating any LGBTQ discrimination protections.  

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In WRAL’s report, the folks at Equality NC, an LGBTQ advocacy group, condemned the bill and called for lawmakers to pass trans protections in state law instead.

“Young people all across this state, regardless of gender identity, deserve the opportunity to experience the benefits of being part of a sporting community, especially when trans youth already face disproportionate barriers to success in learning environments,” Equality NC’s Rebby Kern told WRAL. “Equality NC believes that we can find a way to protect transgender youth and ensure that all youth, regardless of gender identity, have the opportunity to learn teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership, self-discipline and all the other lessons that sports provide.”

The bill has been assigned to a NC House judiciary committee, but would also have to be considered by the chamber’s education committees as well. It is unclear if  the the legislature’s GOP leadership is up for another fight of transgender rights. The bill would almost certainly be vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper, and would need a number of Democrats to flip to overturn any veto, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

At Cardinal & Pine, we’ll keep you posted on any developments.