— Sports

Montana transgender athletes bill amended amid funding worry

HELENA, Mont. (AP) – Montana lawmakers amended Tuesday a bill that would ban transgender athletes from competing in school and college sports according to the gender with which they identify. Under the amendment, the measure would be nullified if the federal government withholds education funding from the state due to the policy. Montana universities receive around $350 million annually in federal funding, of which $250 million goes towards student loans and grants to cover tuition costs – money that university officials say could be on the line. The concern over funding loss stems from an executive order signed by President Joe Biden during his first days in office banning discrimination based on gender.

The Montana bill has already received initial approval from the state House and Senate. A GOP-dominated committee of House and Senate members voted along party lines to amend the bill after a short discussion, with Republicans in favor. The amended bill would allow for the policy to be reversed after the state completes an entire appeal process of any decision by the federal government to withhold funding. The measure heads to a final vote by the House and Senate before advancing to the desk of Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte.

Activists protested in front of the state capitol Monday, calling Gianforte to veto the bill if the Legislature passes it. Gianforte has not commented on whether he supports the measure or another tab advancing this year that would ban gender-affirming surgery for transgender minors in the state. Similar bills banning transgender athletes from school sports were proposed in more than 20 states this year and have already been signed into law in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. In Idaho, a court ruling blocked a similar law last year.


Supporters of the Montana measure say it will keep the playing field fair in women’s sports.

“You have a human right not to be discriminated against, but you do not have a sports right,” bill sponsor GOP Rep. John Fuller said Tuesday.

Opponents – including students, athletes, and human rights advocates – say the measure would further harm already marginalized transgender youth in the state.

“The fact that we are spending a single moment deciding who’s allowed to play sports as a kid in a way that’s going to require coaches and people on those teams to do invasive privacy-destroying genital exams is shocking,” Democratic Sen. Bryce Bennett said.

Opponents have also raised concern over statements by the NCAA that the organization would revoke the opportunity to host championship events in states where such laws have been enacted, including popular football events in Montana’s two largest universities. “This bill may really compromise some of our best and brightest athletes,” Democratic Rep. Tom France said. Samuels is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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