Virginia bill would require transgender student-athletes play on teams based on biological sex

A Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require transgender athletes in public schools — from elementary school through college — to play on teams that match their biological sex.

HB 1387, introduced by Virginia Beach Republican Karen Greenhalgh, doesn’t include the word “transgender,” but would have the effect of barring transgender students in K-12 schools and colleges from competing on teams that match their gender identities.

The wide-ranging bill applies to all levels of competition, including “interscholastic, intercollegiate, intermural or club,” teams.

Under Greenhalgh’s bill, each team sponsored by a public school must be designated for male athletes, female athletes, or coed or mixed that includes both male and female athletes.

To try out for a team, the student athlete would need to submit an “athletics eligibility form signed by a licensed physician, a licensed nurse practitioner … or physician assistant,” which specifies “such student’s biological sex.”

The bill would forbid public schools in Virginia from competing against private schools, unless the private school complies with the provisions of the bill.

Greenhalgh’s bill seems to open an avenue for student athletes and their families to file lawsuits, if a student is “deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers any direct or indirect harm,” if a school knowingly allows transgender students to play on teams that match their gender identity.

It’s unclear whether a new law could provide compensation by current or recent athletes who have felt wronged because of the inclusion of transgender athletes, but the bill specifies all civil actions “must be initiated within two years after the harm occurred.”

The bill comes in the midst of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed policy changes for transgender students that, among other things, would require transgender students to use school facilities and play on teams that match their biological sex.

Youngkin’s guidelines could take effect later this month.

WTOP is seeking comment from Youngkin on Greenhalgh’s bill, which, if passed as written, would be implemented for the 2023 to 2024 school year.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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