Feb. 18 –The Utah democratic party published a press release in response to the passing of H.B. 302 in the house of representatives.
H.B. 302 first and foremost requires schools and other educational facilities to strictly designate interscholastic athletics based on sex, which is defined by the bill as “the biological, physical condition of being male or female, determined by an individual’s genetics and anatomy at birth.”
According to the democratic press release, this language comes from a place of bias and poses a threat to the inclusion of transgender populations.
“We stand against this unnecessary and hurtful legislation, and we know the facts: H.B. 302 comes without the input of the LGBTQ community, [and] isn’t the work of local activists,” said Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Merchant in the release. “This Republican bill will, without question, hurt children in our state, and damage our relations with the LGBTQ community irreparably.”
As H.B. 302 waits to be seen by the Senate, many have considered the implications of its passing. While the bill specifically calls for enforcement in precollegiate education systems, the passing of the bill could also have potential economic implications in higher education.
The NCAA’s current policies and standards regarding transgender athletes directly contradict those listed in H.B. 302. Though the NCAA hasn’t made any official statements, there is a chance that all NCAA competition could be relocated to universities outside of Utah to avoid major contradictions if the bill is fully passed. A move like this would strip Utah of the income which NCAA sporting events hosted in-state bring.
The NCAA Inclusion of Transgender Student-Athletes states the official policies of the NCAA regarding transgender athletes.
“As a core value, the NCAA believes in and is committed to diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators. We seek to establish and maintain an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student-athletes and career opportunities for coaches and administrators from diverse backgrounds,” the opening paragraph reads. “Diversity and inclusion improve the learning environment for all student-athletes and enhance excellence within the Association.”
The NCAA Inclusion of Transgender Student-athletes further insists that all affiliated athletic programs and teams not only accept transgender athletes but encourage them to play the sports they desire.
“We are reviewing the impact of the bill, including impacts stemming from conflicts with NCAA rules and federal law. We believe more dialogue is needed before extending student-athlete restrictions to higher education,” UVU spokesperson Scott Trotter said in a statement on Feb. 25.
Utah Governor Spencer Cox told Utahns that he would not sign the bill as it stands in its current state. He noted that he believes both sides of the controversial bill are right, and that subtle rewrites could assist in making the bill more successful.
“I’m not willing to give up on figuring out this one. I think there’s still much that we can do to protect women’s sports and also to send a message to trans kids that there’s a place for them and that they belong. And that’s really important to me that they know that,” Cox said in an interview with the Daily Herald.
The bill was sent to the Senate for further vote. To find more information on H.B. 302 or to read the bill in its entirety please visit utah.gov.
Senior Staff Writer and Assitant Sports Editor
English major with an emphasis in Creative Writing- double minor in Environmental Studies and Communication.