Sports Bill of Rights ducks toughest issue

Several dozen of the most influential organizations in the sport and nonprofit sectors have endorsed the Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports, drafted by the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program to create a shared cultural understanding about the right of all youth to play and to develop through sports, but the measure is silent on the controversy over whether transgender athletes might be subjected to discrimination.

Written with the aid of human rights and sports policy experts over the past year, the Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports is a resource designed to help leaders – from program operators to policymakers – grow access to sports while establishing minimum conditions under which youth are served.

It just fails to address the fact that all around the country, states are rushing to approve laws to address a supposed problem that, in reality, doesn’t actually exist but is nonetheless one of those volatile political issues that can convince people to vote against their own interests.

Efforts to erase voting rights, trans rights, and abortion rights for millions of people are escalating across the country, but according to sports attorney Dionne Koller the “Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports does not take a position on how transgender youth should play sports, deferring that question to administrators, policymakers and the law.”

Female transgender athletes competing in girls high school and women’s college sports has become a controversial topic that conservative Republicans across the country are exploiting to drive wedges among equality-loving Americans.

“Make no mistake, the efforts that some people are making in this area are really nothing short of an all-out assault that seeks to end women’s sports,” said U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who has long opposed national abortion rights by plotting to overturn the Supreme Court’s rulings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey and never seriously advocated for women’s rights. “When what they’re saying is someone who’s born male, and even gone through puberty as a male, to decide through his own volition to identify as female, that is an end to women’s sports, and I think we’ve got to acknowledge as much.”

Southern Utah University’s Linnea Saltz spoke out against allowing transgender female athletes to compete in women’s sports.

Lee and others who want to divide people on cultural issues have found an audience. Southern Utah University sprinter Linnea Saltz, is a runner who said she would not have much of a chance to remain a champion if her competition includes male-to-female transgender athletes.

Her fears were echoed by Donna de Varona, the Olympic swimmer who lobbied for Title IX’s passage in 1972; Donna Lopiano, the former chief executive of the Women’s Sports Foundation; and Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic swimmer and law professor who wrote a book on Title IX.

The group of influential women’s sports advocates say legislation requiring transgender girls and women, in high school sports and above, to suppress testosterone for at least one year before competing against other girls and women, are proposals about fairness but LGBT activists say their plans would endanger transgender rights — and transgender lives.

In 2021, lawmakers in 36 states have filed over 75 bills that would ban transgender athletes from competing in school sports but they are facing opposition. In nine states, these discriminatory bills have become law. This post explains what is at stake.

“Other than an oft-cited pair of transgender runners in Connecticut, who combined to win 15 championships and sparked a lawsuit, we couldn’t find even the hint of a threat to the integrity of women’s sports,” said Associated Press sports writer Paul Newberry. “But, judging from what’s happening in at least 20 states around the country, transgender athletes are roughly akin to a giant meteor hurtling toward Earth, threatening to destroy our very way of life.”

Calling Mississippi a “state that’s never been known as a citadel of social justice,” Newberry said, “It took the Magnolia State more than a century to purge the racist Confederate battle emblem from its official flag, but it moved much more quickly to keep transgender athletes from taking part in female sports.”

“Transgender kids are kids; transgender girls are girls. Like all children, they deserve the opportunity to play sports with their friends and be a part of a team,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Alphonso David.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny in April dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which sought to halt transgender female athletes from participating in girls high school sports.

The issue is far from being resolved but the loudest advocates of transgender bans are less interested in fairness in women’s sports than they are concerned about winning elections so they can widen the gap between rich and poor in America.

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