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Bill that would regulate transgender children in sports fails to receive enough votes for cloture

Posted at 3:30 PM, Apr 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-05 16:30:07-04

LINCOLN — As a parent of a transgender child, Michelle Judd has seen the struggles her daughter and other transgender children have gone through finding acceptance from society.

In 2023 she watched as the legislature debated whether her daughter should have access to gender affirming care and in 2024 she watched as lawmakers debated whether her daughter should be able to take the same field as her peers.

“There is not ulterior motive, there is no transitioning so they can play on a sports team that’s not anything that happens,” said Judd.

The bill that looks so separate sports and spaces based on biological gender, LB575, was introduced by Senator Kathleen Kauth, the same legislator behind last year’s ban on gender affirming care.

The argument’s from supporters boils down to safety of the athletes, Kauth believes that physical advantages of biological males makes it unsafe for them to compete in girls’ sports, and that intimate spaces like locker rooms and restrooms should be regulated on biological gender.

“Think about that, you are a girl on a team and there is someone across from you who is distinctly bigger, much stronger, longer arms, you know that’s a boy. Your feelings are not what’s important there,” said Kauth.

Debate quickly turned to whether legislators were trying to solve a problem that didn’t exist.

Many pointed to the lack of transgender athletes competing in k-12 sports as a sign this isn’t something legislators should be dealing with.

There was also the admission by the bill’s introducer that many of her constituents weren’t even considering it as an issue before she brought it to their attention.

“You are the one that really brought that up, it wasn’t at the doors?," questioned Senator Carol Blood.

“At some yes but primarily it was discussions about what is important," said Kauth.

"I appreciate that because now we have validated that really, this isn’t a problem that most people were concerned about in your district until you opened the doors to the information,” said Blood.

For Michelle her daughter, who is 18, is getting old enough she won’t be competing in k-12 sports.

But she says the benefits that sports can bring any youth, transgender or not, are important enough they should be preserved for every athlete.

“Sports are so unbelievably important for kids. It’s not just the competition, it’s teamwork. Its confidence, kids who play sports do better academically. There is no reason to exclude kids from sports,” said Judd.

When it came time for a cloture vote the measure failed, falling two votes short of the needed 33 to end debate.

Senators Tom Brandt and Mirv Riepe were present but did not vote.