After intense debate earlier this month, the Utah legislature passed HB 11 to prevent biological males from competing in female sports.
Governor Spencer Cox (R) vetoed the bill, stating he wanted to protect “the integrity of women’s sports” while allowing transgender students to participate. He claimed that there are only four transgender students participating in girls’ sports in the state.
But the Republican-supermajority Utah legislature has voted to override the governor’s veto.
The House voted 56-18 and the Senate voted 21-8 to override the veto.
— Brian Mullahy (@bmullahy2news) March 25, 2022
The Salt Lake Tribune reported:
The bill, HB11, originally intended to create a commission charged with evaluating whether a transgender athlete could participate in a school sport — a compromise that avoided an outright ban. But during final hours of the legislative session earlier this month, the Legislature passed a last-minute amendment to the bill that banned transgender girls from participating in female school sports.
During the override session, the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, said, “I truly believe we’re here to uphold Title IX, to preserve the integrity of women’s sports and to do so in a way unlike other states.”
Birkeland defended the bill, adding that if the legislation were to pass, transgender athletes would still be allowed to participate in co-ed sports.
State Rep. Candice Pierucci, R-Herriman, acknowledged the issue has caused much division and strife.
“I think though, at this point, we are doing our best to try to thread a needle … to preserve women’s sports and find a path forward,” she said.
Governor Cox wrote in his statement regarding the veto:
Finally, there is one more important reason for this veto. I must admit, I am not an expert on transgenderism. I struggle to understand so much of it and the science is conflicting. When in doubt however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion. I also try to get proximate and I am learning so much from our transgender community. They are great kids who face enormous struggles. Here are the numbers that have most impacted my decision: 75,000, 4, 1, 86 and 56
- 75,000 high school kids participating in high school sports in Utah.
- 4 transgender kids playing high school sports in Utah.
- 1 transgender student playing girls sports.
- 86% of trans youth reporting suicidality.
— Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox (@GovCox) March 25, 2022