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Mississippi bill prevents transgender athletes from competing in girls’, women’s sports

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signs the first state bill in the U.S. this year to ban transgender athletes from competing on female sports teams. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill today (March 11) to ban transgender athletes from competing on girls’ or women’s sports teams.

Mississippi is the first state this year to enact such a ban, after a federal court blocked an Idaho law last year. Mississippi’s Senate Bill 2536 is set to become law July 1, although a legal challenge is possible.

“I applaud the Mississippi legislature and governor for taking a stand on traditional gender identity,” said Shawn Parker, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. “This bill is positive for several reasons. First, it will protect our young girls from the danger of potential predators. Second, it reinforces to all of our young people a moral clarity that is greatly needed today. Finally, it maintains for all society the biblical conviction that God has made us distinctly male and female, and both reflect His glorious design.

“If we compromise this basic social parameter, we’re inviting problems today and even more problems for future generations. I’m prayerful that those who struggle with transgender issues might look to God for understanding and trust Him for help. If so, they’ll find His grace to be sufficient!”

More than 20 states are proposing restrictions on athletics or gender-transforming medical treatment for transgender minors this year. Conservative lawmakers are responding to an executive order by Democratic President Joe Biden that bans discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere. Biden signed it Jan. 20, the day he took office.

“But for the fact that President Biden as one of his first initiatives sat down and signed an executive order – which, in my opinion, encourages transgenderism amongst our young people – but for that fact, we wouldn’t be here today,” Reeves, a Replublican, said during a ceremony in the Mississippi Capitol, where he was joined by legislators who supported the bill.

Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ civil rights organization Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement Thursday that the Mississippi law could lead to more bullying of transgender people.

“This law is a solution in search of a problem, and legislators in Mississippi have not provided any examples of Mississippi transgender athletes gaming the system for a competitive advantage because none exist,” David said.

Reeves has three daughters who play sports and he said March 4 on Twitter that Mississippi’s bill would “protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological males for athletic opportunities.”

The Mississippi Senate passed the bill Feb. 11, and the House passed it March 3. The votes were largely along party lines, with most Republicans supporting the bill and most Democrats either opposing it or refraining from voting.

Supporters of bills such as the one in Mississippi argue that transgender girls, because they were born male, are naturally stronger, faster and bigger than those born female. Opponents say such proposals violate not only Title IX of federal education law prohibiting sex discrimination, but also rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

From The Associated Press. May not be republished. AP writer David Crary contributed to this report from New York. Baptist Press staff also contributed. Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter at https://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.