Mississippi’s governor signed a bill into law on Thursday prohibiting biological males from competing in girls’ or women’s sports, making the state the first in 2021 to act on the issue.
More than 20 states are considering similar bills, which supporters say are needed in light of a push on the national and state levels to allow transgender girls and women to compete alongside biological females in sports.
Two high school athletes in Connecticut who are biologically male but who identify as female won a total of 15 state track championships. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has taken initial steps in requiring schools to allow transgender athletes to compete according to their gender identity.
The Mississippi bill passed in the state House 81-28 with bipartisan support, although a 34-9 vote in the Senate fell along partisan lines.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, signed the bill into law Thursday. Supporters call it the “Mississippi Fairness Act.”
“Athletic teams or sports designated for ‘females,’ ‘women’ or ‘girls’ shall not be open to students of the male sex,” the text of the bill says.
The new law, which takes effect July 1, also allows athletes to file suit if their school violates the law.
“This important piece of legislation will ensure that young girls in Mississippi have a fair, level playing field in public school sports,” Reeves said during a signing ceremony.
During his first week in office, President Biden signed an executive order that prevents discrimination in public schools on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The areas impacted include school sports. “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” the order says.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova spoke out against Biden’s plan for women’s sports.
Reeves said the law is needed in light of the Biden executive order, which he said presents “an unfair challenge to biological girls who wish to join team sports.”
The executive order, he said, “encourages transgenderism among our young people.”
Alliance Defending Freedom, which is challenging Connecticut’s policy in court, thanked Reeves for signing the bill.
“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Allowing males to compete in girls’ sports destroys fair competition and athletic opportunities for women,” said ADF legal counsel Christiana Holcomb. “... When the law ignores biological differences, women and girls bear the brunt of the harm. We have seen increasing examples of males dominating girls’ athletic competitions when competing as females, capturing championships, and shattering long-standing female track records. Comparably fit and trained males will always have physical advantages over females – that’s the reason we have girls’ sports.”
Last month, the Biden administration’s Office for Civil Rights announced it was withdrawing its support of three female high school athletes who are challenging Connecticut’s policy of allowing biological boys who identify as girls to compete in girls-only events. The Trump administration had sided with the three athletes.
The Mississippi law could be challenged in court. Last year, a federal judge blocked a similar law in Idaho.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Pool/Pool
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.