COLUMBIA, S.C. — Ashley Miller, 18, says she welcomes all competition in school sports. She runs track and is a cheerleader at Chapin High School. She’s not concerned about transgender athletes competing against her, even if they were born male.
“It wouldn’t bother me," Miller said. “It just makes for more competition.”
A group of Upstate lawmakers strongly disagrees.
They’ve introduced a bill known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act.” The bill would require high school students to play on sports teams based on the gender on their birth certificate.
Greenville State Representative Ashley Trantham is one of the sponsors.
“When males compete in girl’s sports, equal opportunity is destroyed,” Trantham said. “We don’t want to see this happen in our state. We’re protecting our girls.”
This is the message of several state lawmakers responding to what they said is a 2016 policy of the South Carolina High School league, which governs high school sports. The policy allows transgender students who are born males, to play on girls’ teams. Opponents said that’s unfair to girls.
State Senator Richard Cash of Anderson County sponsored the Senate version of the bill.
“Can a young man who says at some point in time that they identify as a young woman, then go out and compete with young women?” Cash asked in a news conference Wednesday.
Part of Senate bill S-1087 says, “...To provide that a student’s biological sex shall be conclusive in a determination concerning whether the student may participate on a team competing in an interscholastic activity that is under the jurisdiction of the South Carolina High School League.”
Even though lawmakers at the State House Wednesday told reporters there was a high school league policy allowing transgender students to play on girl’s teams, Channel 9 couldn’t find it anywhere in the 100-page handbook of rules and regulations.
High school league Director Jerome Singleton said there is no such policy. He couldn’t comment further because he hadn’t seen the bill, and was unaware a news conference had been called about the transgender athlete issue. During the news conference, lawmakers said the transgender policy was approved without a meeting of the board and didn’t happen in the public eye.
A website run by a group that promotes transgender athletes in school sports lists policies on the issue in all 50 states. South Carolina is listed on the website as having no policy.
The Senate bill has been introduced and had one reading. It was sent to the education committee, and has not come up for debate.
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