A bill that would protect biological female student athletes from having to compete against those born as males passed in the Mississippi Senate on Thursday.
The bill was the last piece of legislation passed by the Senate Thursday by a 34-9 margin (with four voting present) before adjournment.
Thursday was the final day for bills to pass out of the originating chamber.
Senate Bill 2536, which was sponsored by state Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune and known as the Mississippi Fairness Act, would require any public school, university or community college team to be either designated for those of one biological sex or the other (in addition to an exception for co-ed teams).
It was the third attempt by Hill to get a procedure codified in Mississippi, which is one of 10 states without a policy of this type.
“The reason for this is I’ve had numerous coaches throughout the state call me and they believe there is a need for a policy in Mississippi,” Hill said. “They’re beginning to have some concerns about having to deal with this.”
Hill’s legislation also has a clause that would allow any student who reports a violation of the law and is retaliated against by the school or other athletic association to have the right to injunctive relief and damages.
Another would allow a student whose bodily privacy was violated to have the same rights.
The bill’s importance to conservatives is magnified after President Joe Biden’s executive order, issued on January 20, that expands prohibited forms of sex discrimination under Title IX to include discrimination for gender identity and sexual orientation.
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funds.
Three high school girls who ran track in Connecticut filed a lawsuit last year to challenge Connecticut’s policy of allowing male athletes to compete with girls in sports. They are represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit conservative law firm.
The three — Selina Soule, Alanna Smith and Chelsea Mitchell — have lost consistently in track meets that have been won by two transgender athletes born as males.
The lawsuit says the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s rules allowing transgender athletes to compete with girls poses a threat to Title IX because of physiological differences between men and women after puberty.
Boys and men have more muscle mass and thus run faster and jump farther than girls and women, according to the lawsuit.
“It's not fair and that women should be given their opportunity to compete and that biology and physical advantages and differences should be the major factor determining those policies instead of gender identity,” said ADF attorney Christiana Holcomb, who is representing the three girls in the lawsuit.
Since 2017, two males have taken 15 women’s state championship titles in Connecticut.
“I think that it's important because in high school there are all four years I was forced to compete against biological males,” Soule told the Northside Sun. “And it was a very frustrating and demoralizing experience to being forced to compete against someone who, you know, you will never be able to beat and all of us girls knew the outcome of the race, before you know before we even got to the start line before we got to the meet, we know who was going to win.
“It was just a very heartbreaking experience going through that knowing that, no matter what you can do, no matter how much effort and time you put in in practice and training, you will never be able to overcome the physical advantages that a male's body has.”
The Title IX law, which was passed in 1972, has led to a massive growth in the number of athletic opportunities for women. According to the NCAA, the number of female athletes in in 1982 was 74,239. By 2020, that number had grown to 221,212, an increase of 197 percent.
Alaska, Mississippi, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee and West Virginia are the only states that have no policies toward male athletes competing against females. Montana’s state legislature is considering enacting a similar policy and Tennessee is in the process of enacting a policy as well.