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Alabama governor signs law restricting trans students' participation in sports

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, shown here signing the Human Life Protection Act in May 2019, confirmed Friday that she has signed a bill prohibiting transgender youth from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity. UPI file photo
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, shown here signing the Human Life Protection Act in May 2019, confirmed Friday that she has signed a bill prohibiting transgender youth from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity. UPI file photo | License Photo

April 24 (UPI) -- Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed a bill that bans transgender public school students from playing on sports teams that fit their gender identity.

The governor's office confirmed that she had signed HB 391 Friday but did not provide further comment, AL.com reported.

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The bill passed out of Alabama's House of Representatives in mid-March.

LGBTQ advocates have warned that the National Collegiate Athletic Association could pull out of hosting college basketball tournaments in Birmingham if the bill passed, and said the World Games, set for 2022 in Birmingham, could be in jeopardy as well.

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Earlier this month the NCAA's Board of Governors said it will only hold college championships in states where transgender student-athletes can participate without discrimination.

Ivey told reporters those warnings were "speculation" and Nick Sellers, CEO of the 2022 World Games, said he was confident the event would go on as planned.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, as of Saturday, 31 states have introduced legislation excluding transgender youth from participating in school sports.

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In 2020, 18 states introduced similar bills, with Idaho being the first and only state to pass such a ban. That law was later blocked by a federal judge, but is currently awaiting legal review.

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"It is unfair for biological males to compete against females, in high school sports," said Rep. Scott Stadthagen, a Republican from Hartselle, who sponsored Alabama's bill.

"This bill is a shameful bill that is built on a web of lies and misinformation. Transgender youth have been playing sports consistent with their gender identity for years without incident on the collegiate and professional level," said Carmarion D. Harvey-Anderson, Human Rights Campaign's Alabama state director, in a statement.

"They just want access to the same childhood experiences as their peers. Ultimately, HB 391 will not just hurt transgender kids. It will hurt all Alabamans because the consequences of this law -- economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles, and a tarnished reputation -- will ripple across the state."

The NCAA has allowed transgender athletes to compete in sports that match their gender identity since 2011. Joanna Harper, a researcher at Loughborough University in Britain who studies the effects of hormone therapy on transgender athletes, told The New York Times in August that of 200,000 women in college sports at a given time, about 50 are transgender.

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