RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Republican state lawmaker has proposed a bill to ban transgender students at Virginia’s K-12 public schools and colleges from joining sports teams that align with their gender identity.
The proposal from Del. Karen Greenhalgh (R-Va. Beach) renews a failed effort pushed by GOP lawmakers during the 2022 Virginia General Assembly session. It also comes after Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration proposed new Department of Education guidelines on the treatment of transgender and nonbinary students in public schools.
Youngkin’s policies have yet to be implemented, but they could soon require students to play on teams and use facilities that align with their sex assigned at birth.
Del. Greenhalgh’s legislation seeks to change state law to require elementary and secondary school students to submit an athletics eligibility form that includes their “biological sex” to try out for any public school’s “interscholastic, intramural, or club athletic team or sport.”
Under the bill, teams sponsored by a public school must be designated based on a student’s “biological sex” under these specific categories: for “males,” “men,” or “boys”; for “females,” “women,” or “girls”; or for “coed” or “mixed.”
“The eligibility of a public school student to participate on any interscholastic, intramural, or club athletic team or sport that is expressly designated for (i) ‘males,’ ‘men,’ or ‘boys,’ or (ii) ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’ shall be based on the student’s biological sex as identified on such student’s signed athletics eligibility form,” the bill reads.
Teams and sports designated for “females,” “women,” or “girls” will not be open to K-12 and college students “whose biological sex is male,” according to the measure. But the proposed bill does not impose eligibility restrictions for those designated for “males,” “men,” or “boys” or as “coed” or “mixed.”
Del. Greenhalgh (R-Va. Beach) did not immediately respond to a request for an interview Thursday.
Her proposal would also require private schools and colleges to comply with the rules to compete against public institutions and give students who claim they’ve been harmed by a known violation a path forward for a civil lawsuit.
Greenhalgh’s bill would also prevent investigations from being opened or any action against a school “for explicitly designating or maintaining separate intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams or sports for ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls.'”
The legislation — filed for the 2023 Virginia General Assembly session — would take effect in the 2023-24 school year if passed and signed into law.
With Democrats’ slim majority in the Virginia Senate, the proposal faces an uphill battle to advance for a final vote.