North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Tuesday signed legislation that restricts transgender girls' participation in sports. Photo courtesy of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum/Twitter
April 12 (UPI) -- North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has signed into law a pair of bills that effectively ban transgender student athletes from playing on sports teams designated for girls and women.
The Republican governor signed the legislation Tuesday, after having vetoed similar legislation in 2021 and while stating that since then, there has not been a single transgender girl among the state's 27,000 student athletes in that time who has asked to play on a girls' team.
"Nevertheless, the legislature has now resoundingly determined that restrictions beyond the 2022 NDHSAA rules for girls' sports should be codified in state law," he said in a statement announcing the signing of the bills.
Neither bill signed Tuesday mentions transgender student athletes but they prohibit them from competing against girls and women by mandating athletics be designated as either for males, females or coed and strictly segregating them based on gender. House Bill 1249 applies the rule to K-12 schools while House Bill 1489 applies the rule to higher education.
In his statement, Burgum said his administration is confident that school districts will continue to work to make sure all students have the chance to compete in athletics.
Burgum signed the legislation amid a Republican push to restrict transgender student athletes from playing on girls' and women's sports teams with North Dakota being added to a list of 20 other states that have enacted similar legislation.
Proponents of such bills state they are needed to ensure the integrity of girls' and women's sports, while opponents argue they are an attack against transgender girls and are being pursued amid a conservative effort to limit the rights of LGBTQ people nationwide.
"These bills are not about leveling the playing field for student athletes. They're about erasing and excluding trans people for participating in all aspects of public life," Cody Schuler, advocacy manager at the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota, said Tuesday in a statement.
"Signing House Bill 1249 and House Bill 1489 into law is shameful and only reinforces the incorrect notion that transgender students are not entitled to the same dignity and respect as all students."