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South Carolina House passes transgender sports bill in 82-28 vote

Supporters of the bill say it creates a level playing field for female athletes; those opposed to the bill worry it negatively impacts students who are transgender.

SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — A South Carolina bill making its way through the statehouse could change how transgender athletes compete in sports. In an 82-28 vote on Tuesday, House Representatives passed the 'Save Women's Sports Act.'

The bill would apply to collegiate and K-12 schools preventing transgender athletes from participating in all-female sports. Lawmakers in support of the bill say the goal is to create an even playing field.

"Men have a biological advantage on the sports playing field, their bones are bigger, their lungs have more capacity, they’re built differently," SC Representative RJ May said. “What this bill does is protect women who have a biological difference to males in a sport that they have competed their whole lives in so it keeps the playing field fair and level.”

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Nearly a dozen other states have already passed similar legislation. But LGBTQ advocates in South Carolina believe the bill could no more harm than good creating discrimination and isolation.

“I know firsthand how lonely it feels to grow up as a trans kid in rural South Carolina," Ivy Hill, executive director of Gender Benders SC, said.

They believe bills like this one in South Carolina along with other LGBTQ-focused legislation being proposed all across the country are negatively impacting students in need of the most support. 

“These trans kids who are being attacked from every angle and we want to let them know they’re not alone" Hill said.

A recent survey by the CDC showed nationwide 25% of LGBTQ teens attempted suicide in the first part of 2021. Some say if these bills become law, it could make things much worse.

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“If it was introduced anywhere, particularly anywhere near where these students were, that added to the process and that added to the detriment of the individuals," Jaime Fivecoat, secretary of Upstate Pride SC said.

The next step is for the bill to be heard in the South Carolina Senate sub-committee.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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