Louisiana Transgender Student Atheletes’ Rights Under Attack Again; Lege Threatens Veto Session

“Protect transgender students” by vpickering, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Once again, the Louisiana legislature is threatening the rights of transgender students in sports. On Tuesday, Governor John Bel Edwards struck down a bipartisan bill, SB 156, the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” Nevertheless, the legislature has decided not to give up, instead indicating that they may convene a legislative session just to override the Governor’s veto. The bill, which prohibits transgender students from participating in girls’ and women’s sports in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools, has been sweeping across southern states in what appears to be a coordinated effort.

Governor Edwards said in a statement upon vetoing the bill, “As I have said repeatedly when asked about this bill, discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana. Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue.”

However, the bill passed with veto proof numbers in the Louisiana House, 78-19 votes, and 29-6 votes in the Senate. With those kinds of numbers, the legislature is optimistic that their special session could overturn the will of Governor Edwards.

In response to the governor, Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder (District 81), a former race car driver, has declared that he wants to hold a special legislative session in the middle of July. This would be the first time in the history of Louisiana’s current constitution for such a legislative session to be held for the purposes of a veto. In a written statement to Julie O’Donoghue at the Louisiana Illuminator, Schexnayder says, “While I do not have the authority to call one, I do support a veto session and I am in favor of overriding the governor’s veto.”

It would take a majority of the Louisiana House and Senate to approve such a veto session, while a simple majority could also override such an event. Once in session, it would take two-thirds of the House and Senate to override the Governor’s veto.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has already cautioned states from implementing anti-transgender policies, in a statement saying, “The NCAA has a long-standing policy that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports. Our approach — which requires testosterone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports — embraces the evolving science on this issue and is anchored in participation policies of both the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.” The final part of the statement warns that, “When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.”

States, and cities such as New Orleans, are rightly concerned that college sporting events and participation could suffer for passing anti-transgender legislation.

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