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Proposed Arizona law would ban transgender female students from women’s sports

Female transgender students could be restricted from competing in Arizona sports under a new bill being proposed by Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix. If voted in, the new state law would require interscholastic and intramural leagues to classify separate co-ed, male and female sports specifically.

 With the slogan “Save Women’s Sports Act” by Barto, if House Bill 2706 passes, it would require all public and private interscholastic schools to abide by this new law including at the intramural level, community college and university level.

Joe Paddock, assistant executive director for the Arizona Interscholastic Association, sees this as something that could impact student athletes.

Each person who would be affected would have to participate under their own biological sex or, as GLAAD references it, as “designated gender at birth.” 

“We do have a transgender policy in place,” Paddock said. “It was built by the sports medicine advisory committee and was comprised of physicians and doctors with a variety of expertise. It’s become a part of our policy and practice with our AIA member schools.” 

Article 41.7 of the AIA bylaws states:

All students should have the opportunity to participate in Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the sex listed on a student’s eligibility for participation in interscholastic athletics or in a gender that does not match the sex at birth, via the following procedure below.

“It certainly will be a topic for our executive board at their next meeting in February for some discussion,” Paddock said. “I’m sure they are already aware that the bill is there and could be passed by the state legislature.”

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Harper Jean Tobin, Director of Policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality, sees this bill affecting many lives beyond the AIA level and through the college level.

“The Arizona bill would force some students out of college sports and ban them from college sports,” Tobin said. “The NCAA already has a policy on this for a decade.”

The NCAA executive committee adopted this Office of Inclusion back in April of 2010. 

If the bill passes, it would overlap other associations larger than just the AIA. The NCAA also would be affected and with the current policy in place would need to re-evaluate its own rules once again. Twenty-two House Republicans already co-sponsor the bill.

“My fear is that some student athletes around the state would be lost and hopeless.” Tobin said. “They could be kicked off of teams with their friends where they have built connections with their friends.”

Matt Sharp serves as the Senior Council for the Alliance Defending Freedom and is in favor of the bill as he feels that the playing field will level out once again.

“This bill is going to create a level playing field for all athletes, including female athletes,” Sharp said. “Biological males are being allowed to compete on female teams and those female athletes are losing the opportunity to win and be at the top of the podium.”

“This bill will preserve the level playing field that Title IX created that gives guys and girls an opportunity to win,” Sharp said, referencing the federal civil rights law that was passed back in 1972. 

“Biological girls are going to have the same opportunities to compete on girls team and not worry about a biological male no matter how he identifies and allow and come take his spot on a girls team or on top of the podium,” said Sharp.

With legislation still in the works, the bill has potential to become a hot-button topic, but there is a long way before it could impact Arizona’s sports landscape.

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Travis Whittaker/Cronkite News

Transgender activists have voiced concerns about House Bill 2076, which would require interscholastic and intramural leagues to classify separate co-ed, male and female sports specifically.