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Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb on Monday vetoed a bill that would have prevented transgender females from taking part in female sports in schools across the state, claiming the measure “leaves too many unanswered questions” and questioning the need for intervention at a state level.
“The presumption of the policy laid out in HEA 1041 is that there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention,” Holcomb said in a veto letter sent to Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston. “It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met. After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal.”
“If it is the goal of HEA 1041 to provide clarity and one consistent state policy regarding the fairness in K-12 sports in Indiana, for me this current bill falls short,” he said. “The wide-open nature of the grievance provisions in HEA 1041 that apply to all K-12 schools in Indiana makes it unclear about how consistency and fairness will be maintained for parents and students across different counties and school districts.”
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In addition to allowing only females to participate in girls’ sports teams at K-12 public schools, the legislation, House Bill 1041, would have established that violations to the law would prompt civil action, and that schools would not be subject to administrative, civil, criminal or disciplinary liability for complying with it, according to Indianapolis’ WRTV.
The measure, however, would not bar students born a female from participating in male school sports.
Holcomb noted the “enthusiasm to protect the integrity and fairness of women’s sports” in the state is an idea he called a “worthy cause for sure,” but he suggested that he currently does not see a problem that requires states intervention.
Holcomb said the measure is also bound to face legal challenges, making reference to a lawsuit filed in the state before the bill was introduced. That lawsuit, according to Holcomb, was filed by “a middle-grade student who seeks to play in school sports on the team of their choice.”
Republican lawmakers in the state now plan to meet on Thursday to vote to override the veto, according to Huston.
“The fundamental goal of this legislation is to protect competition in girls’ sports, and House Republicans will vote to override this veto when lawmakers meet again on May 24,” Huston said in a statement, according to WRTV. “This issue continues to be in the national spotlight and for good reason as women have worked hard for equal opportunities on the playing field — and that’s exactly what they deserve.”
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“Hoosier female athletes deserve the opportunity to win and lose on a level playing field,” said Republican state Rep. Michelle Davis, the author of the bill. “Despite being equal, biological males and biological females both possess different genetic strengths and weaknesses. Because of these differences, biological girls should compete with girls and biological boys should compete with boys. This commonsense legislation would protect athletic opportunities for Hoosier girls right now and into the future.”