On Thursday, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) signed a new bill into law that prevents biological males who identify as transgender and wish to play on girls and women's athletic teams from doing so. The bill passed the Iowa Senate on Wednesday with a vote of 32 to 17.
The law requires athletics programs to be men's, women's, or co-ed, and to tailor participation accordingly, based on the sex designated on a person's birth certificate. This applies at all educational organizations, from elementary school through college.
The law contains provisions for students or schools that face legal challenges due to upholding the law, in providing legal representation at no cost to the defendant, according to local news.
Reynolds was surrounded by Iowa women's athletes at the signing, who spoke about how important it is that "no girl is sidelined in their own sport."
"Our state has an impressive legacy of advancing women's equality," Reynolds said at the signing. "As I was first female governor, this aspect of our state's character fills me with gratitude and pride. I think historic trailblazers, like the great suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt and Mae Francis, the first woman elected to statewide office in Iowa, as well as contemporary barrier breakers like astronaut Peggy Whitson, and the first female combat veteran in the United States Senator Joni Ernst.
"The success of these and so many other women demonstrates what I consider a fundamental principle: Great things happen when women have access to the fair and equal playing field they deserve."
Oh the bill, Reynolds said "Nothing could be more straightforward and common sense. No student will be prevented from playing a sport that matches his or her biological sex, or sport designated as coed. As a woman, a mother of three daughters, and now a grandmother of three young girls. It worries me that this bill is needed at all. It's hard to imagine how anyone who cares about the rights of women and girls could support anything less."
A senior at Carlisle high school, who won the girls 800 meter high school national championship and broke the state record, was invited by Reynolds to speak.
"I've been consistently vocal in my support for this bill," she said, "since my article in the preservation of women's sports was published in the Des Moines Register a month ago. Since then, I spent many, many hours here defending the bill. But today, I'm so honored to stand before you all to simply say thank you. However," she went on, "I don't think words could ever be enough to describe just how much this bill means to me, and all other female athletes in Iowa."
She said that "women are so much more than a hormone level ," and "that the things girls love are worth protecting, and their hard work and dedication is recognized, and their dreams can become a reality."
The Iowa State Department of Education slammed the bill, saying that it is a "hateful attempt to intimidate both students and the education professionals helping them succeed."
However, praise for the bill came from the Iowa Family Leader, which said "Our high school girls and college women deserver better. They deserve to compete on a level playing field. And signing this law will ensure their fair change to compete is protected."
Reynolds has also fought against indoctrination in education in Iowa's public schools.
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