The governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, signed legislation on Thursday forbidding transgender women and girls from participating in female sports offered by Iowa schools, colleges, and institutions. This new law is expected to end up in court, according to legal experts.
Critics from transgender Iowans, LGBTQ advocacy groups, corporations, and Democrats have slammed the passing of House File 2416, saying it breaches civil rights laws and discriminates against transgender females.
According to Republican Rep. Debbie Reynolds, the measure is a “fairness issue” since transgender girls have an advantage in sports. Transgender athletes now face restrictions in 10 Republican-led states, including her home state of Iowa.
After the Iowa Senate passed the measure, it was sent to Reynolds’ desk, and she signed it the next day. It goes into action right away. Senator Zach Wahls, a Democrat from Coralville, slammed Governor Mark Reynolds for signing the bill, calling it “appalling.”
“She is showing once again that she’s more interested in scoring political points than caring about the impact of legislation on some of the most marginalized kids in our society,” he said in a statement.
School-sponsored sporting events must be identified as either a men’s, women’s, or co-ed sport under the law.” The birth certificate of female athletes playing in women’s sports must indicate that they are female. Men’s sports are not included in the bill’s restriction.
When a school violates the law, students can sue if they believe they have been harmed “directly or indirectly.” Lawsuits brought against schools and school staff in Iowa will be handled by the Iowa attorney general’s office, and the state will cover any legal fees.
Legal experts predict that Iowa’s law will be challenged in court. Such legislation in Idaho, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Florida have been the subject of legal challenges in the last two years
According to a report from the independent Legislative Services Agency, a breach of Title IX, the 1972 legislation prohibiting discrimination in schools based on sex, might jeopardize federal funds.
Title IX protects transgender students’ rights, according to guidance issued by the US Department of Education last year. Schools are unlikely to lose federal funding due to history, the report stated; but, the Office of Civil Rights cannot be predicted how it will implement the statute.
Republicans have maintained that the plan would uphold Title IX’s intent, maintaining women’s sports’ competitiveness, rather than violating it. According to a statement from the Human Rights Campaign, more than 150 firms including Amazon, General Mills, IBM, Microsoft, and Nestle have signed a statement condemning the proposed legislation in Iowa and other states.
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