Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday signed a bill banning transgender youth from playing public school sports of the gender with which they align. The legislation is one of several bills targeting transgender youth in the Alabama Legislature this year. The bills have drawn protests from transgender youth, their families and advocates, and will likely lead to lawsuits.
The governor’s office confirmed Ivey had signed the bill but did not immediately respond to requests for further comment Friday afternoon. Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey, the Alabama director of the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for the LGBTQ community, said the bill would have a “devastating” effect on a community at high risk of bullying and suicide. “Trans kids are kids,” she said. “They deserve every opportunity like every other kid to play the sport they identify in.”
The bill, HB 391, sponsored by Rep. Scott Stadthagen, R-Hartselle, bans K-12 sports teams from playing in any competitions that allow transgender athletes to participate. Stadthagen and other supporters argued the bill would protect girls’ sports from potential competition from transgender girls, though an Associated Press survey earlier this year found few if any examples of such things occurring. “I feel sorry for the kids you’re talking about, I really do,” Stadthagen said under questioning during the House debate in March. “But what about the females who have worked since they started at 4 years old, and they get to high school and all their dreams and scholarships yanked before their eyes?”
The bill is part of a package in Alabama targeting transgender youth, reflecting similar measures pushed by Republicans in statehouses around the country. Transgender youth and their families say the bills show profound misunderstandings of transgender identities and discriminate against them. Phineas Fleming-Smith, a transgender youth, said during a Tuesday press conference over Zoom that he did not want to be used as a “political pawn” by legislators.