The North Dakota state House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that will prohibit youth transgender athletes from joining teams that match their gender identity.
The bill, HB 1298, passed in the state House 65-26, according to the Grand Forks Herald, and will now move to the state's Senate for consideration and amendments.
The bill also bans sporting events from receiving public funding if they have a trans athlete playing on a team that matches their gender identity.
An amendment adopted late into the proceedings would allow girls to play on exclusively boys' sports teams, according to KFYR notes, which would be a violation of Title IX.
“Some have said this bill just doesn’t follow the science. We’ve got science going back well before the United States that backs this. This isn’t new science. Men and women didn’t just cease to exist. They’ve existed for a long time and we’ve been able to recognize the differences,” state Rep. Ben Koppelman (R), the bill’s primary sponsor, said.
GOP State Rep. Greg Westlind spoke out against the bill, according to KYFR, arguing that it opens North Dakota up to potential litigation and could result in the state losing national tournaments.
“It’s about learning about yourself, being part of a team, solving problems, figuring out life. But we’re gonna tell some kids you can’t,” state House Minority Leader Josh Boschee (D) said, according to the news outlet.
“And even though most those kids aren’t gonna go up for high school athletics because it’s not within their skillset or desirability, they’re gonna see the action made by this body and it’s going to play into some unfortunate other decisions that they’ll make," Boschee added.
Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee voiced support for similar legislative action in his state, saying, “transgenders participating in women's sports will destroy women's sports.”
Similar bills are currently going through about a dozen other state governments.