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Arizona House passes bill banning transgender student athletes from participating in girls sports

The Arizona House of Representatives passed a controversial bill Tuesday that aims to ban transgender female athletes from participating in girls' school sports. If signed into law, the ban would apply to all students in the state through college. 

The bill, HB 2706, would require female athletes to prove their biological sex with a signed doctor's note following genetic testing if another student athlete disputed it. All public and private schools that sponsor interscholastic and intramural sports would be forced to comply, including K-12 schools, community colleges and universities. 

"Women are being displaced in their own sport. The playing field is no longer level," said Republican Representative Nancy Barto, who introduced the bill. "All that needs to be determined is what sex a person is and that determines which team they can play on."

If the bill becomes law, any student would be able to dispute another athlete's gender if they feel it has negatively affected them. According to Democratic lawmakers, students would be allowed to target other students with no burden of proof. 

Barto said the bill "frankly doesn't discriminate or ban anybody from playing sports," adding that transgender girls could play on coed teams or boy's teams if they wanted. 

Democrats called the bill "unnecessary and transphobic" and said it threatens the privacy of Arizonans, but a Republican majority passed it 31 to 29 along party lines. 

"Transgender children are being attacked at the will of members of the @AZGOP all because they don't fit in their siloed and antiquated thought process," State Representative César Chávez tweeted Tuesday. 

Opponents argue to bill leaves LGBTQ youth vulnerable to harmful bullying and privacy invasions. 

"The vote tonight was shameful," State Representative Kirsten Engel tweeted. "Political points for Republicans at the cost of our most vulnerable kids, our transgender youth. I'm not proud of my State today."

"Whether someone is a sports fans or not, most view this as a matter of basic fairness," Representative Barto said in defense of the bill. "Female student athletes should not be forced to compete in a sport against biological males, who possess inherent physiological advantages. When this is allowed, it discourages female participation in athletics and, worse, it can result in women and girls being denied crucial educational and financial opportunities." 

The bill will now head to the Senate. According to the House, similar legislation is being considered in Idaho, New Hampshire, Washington, Tennessee, Georgia, and Missouri.

Connecticut students sue to stop transgender athletes competing in girls' sports 01:26

The ACLU of Arizona called the bill invasive, discriminatory and harmful. "#HB2706 will police young girls' bodies and shame trans girls in the process," it tweeted

"Transgender girls are girls, and transgender boys are boys. Transgender students participate in sports for the same reasons that other students do. They want enjoy the activities, challenge themselves and be a part of a team," Amanda Parris, policy counsel for the ACLU of Arizona, said in a statement. "Participation in sports has been shown to lead to better grades, better academic performance and improved self-esteem. We should not allow politicians to deny students opportunities to follow their passion and to compete. Transgender students deserve our support, not baseless attacks because of who they are as people." 

Currently, the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) allows all students to participate in sports in a way that is "consistent with their gender identity" regardless of their gender assigned at birth. The AIA also guarantees confidentiality in the process of determining eligibility for transgender student athletes.

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