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Indiana lawmakers expected to override governor's veto of transgender sports ban

Indiana lawmakers expected to override governor's veto of transgender sports ban
Indiana's legislature is expected Tuesday to override Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb's veto of a bill that bans transgender students from competing against female athletes. File Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI | License Photo

May 24 (UPI) -- Indiana lawmakers are expected Tuesday to override Gov. Eric Holcomb's veto of a bill that bans transgender students from competing in girls' sports. A simple majority in the state's Republican-dominated House and Senate would allow the law to take effect July 1.

Holcomb vetoed the bill in March, because he said it presumed "there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention," the Republican governor wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

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"It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met," he wrote. "After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal."

Holcomb also pointed to litigation in other states that have passed similar laws. "Any bill brought forward should address the issues raised in these lawsuits," he wrote.

RELATED Indiana Gov. Holcomb vetos bill to ban transgender student athletes from girls' sports

Indiana could become one of more than a dozen states to pass a transgender sports ban.

"I want to make sure that all the opportunities are provided for our young females and we protect the fair competition for them so they have all those possibilities," Republican Indiana state Rep. Michelle Davis said at a hearing in January.

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Indiana's Republican-controlled House and Senate approved the proposal by wide margins before the Governor's veto. The bill specifically bans biologically male-born students from participating on athletic teams for girls, but makes no restriction for student athletes born as biological girls from competing on boys' teams.

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Critics of the bill argued in March the ban would hurt vulnerable children and teens.

"By passing this bill, Indiana legislators have exposed trans kids to additional exclusion and mistreatment," said Katie Blair, public policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. "This legislation is hateful, harmful and appears to violate federal law and the Constitution."

While there are no instances in Indiana where transgender athletes outperformed other girls, sponsors of the bill said it is vital to protect the integrity of female sports. They argue transgender athletes competing in K-12 girls' sports provides an unfair advantage that could impact college athletic scholarships.

RELATED South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signs transgender athlete ban

Activists plan to rally Indiana's Statehouse ahead of Tuesday's vote. If the veto is overridden, the ACLU of Indiana said it will file a lawsuit to block the ban from taking effect.

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