May 20, 2021

WEAC Opposes Proposals to Limit Transgender Student Athletes

The educators of the Wisconsin Education Association Council continue to stand with our students in opposition of proposals that would prohibit transgender student athletes from participating in organized sports at school.

Bills that would impact college athletes (SB 322 / AB 195) and K-12 school athletes (SB 323) will receive public hearings Wednesday, May 26.

WEAC is partnering with other groups to organize testimony and let legislators know we oppose the bill.

Here’s how to help:

  • Call your senator and representative and say you oppose SB 322/323 and AB 195/196. Explain that educators support all students and this legislation would hurt them, not help. Find Your Representative
  • If you are interested in submitting written remarks, you can sign up here to let us know and you’ll receive details about how to do so. The deadline to submit written remarks is 5 p.m. Monday, May 24.

“Teachers are here for all of our students, including transgender youth,” said WEAC President Ron Martin, an eighth-grade teacher and school volleyball coach. “The social and health benefits of school athletics benefit all pupils and WEAC is proud to stand with other groups to demand access for all students. There is no room in our schools for hate and discrimination.”

Both bills were introduced by Representative Barbara Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc). Dittrich’s proposals would add Wisconsin to a growing list of states that are introducing similar legislation as part of a coordinated effort to push back on recent gains in protections for transgender individuals.

Martin questioned why the Republican legislators would spend time on making life harder for transgender youth instead of passing COVID relief measures that would increase student safety. “Lawmakers who care about students would ensure air quality in deteriorating schools and require statewide criteria for when schools use in-person or virtual instruction based on science. They would not be picking on young people for political gain.”

The proposals are also drawing fire from Wisconsin organizations representing LBGTQ+ students. “Transgender youth also face discrimination in their daily lives, and turn to sports as an affirming space,” a joint statement from GSAFE and Fair Wisconsin said. “Preventing transgender students from participating sends a dangerous message and increases the risks to their physical and emotional wellbeing.”

Key Facts:

  • Idaho became the first state to pass legislation in 2020 preventing transgender women and girls from participating in high school and college women’s sports, although implementation has been suspended for now.
  • 35 bills have been introduced in 31 states in 2021 to exclude transgender youth from participating in athletics—up from 29 bills in 2020 and two in 2019.
  • Mississippi and Arkansas legislatures passed bills that specify transgender girls, while a similar bill in Tennessee applies to all transgender youth.
  • Minnesota transgender athletes who compete in women’s sports in could face criminal charges if the bill there is passed.
  • California passed legislation requiring that schools allow students to compete on the basis of their gender identity.
  • President Joe Biden has signed an executive order that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in school sports, which may prevent the enforcement of some state laws.
  • New York and Virginia join some states that have also passed legislation prohibiting bullying and harassment of students based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • While the national bills to limit transgender students generally is falling along party lines, with Republican-led legislators passing the bill to be vetoed by Democratic governors, the Republican governor in North Dakota vetoed the bill when it reached his desk there. Utah’s Republican governor also has stated he will not sign such a bill if it reaches his desk.