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Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt on Wednesday signed a bill that bars transgender girls and women from competing on women’s sports teams, joining a dozen other states with similar laws.
Flanked by more than a dozen young female athletes, including his 14-year-old daughter Piper, Stitt signed the measure, dubbed the “Save Women’s Sports Act.”
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“This bill, the Save Women’s Sports Act, to us in Oklahoma is just common sense,” said Stitt, a first-term Republican running for re-election. “When it comes to sports and athletics, girls should compete with girls. Boys should compete with boys. And let’s be very clear: that’s all this bill says.”
The bill, which easily passed the Republican-led House and Senate mostly along party lines, went into effect immediately with the governor’s signature. It applies to women’s high school and college sports teams.
The new law was quickly criticized by civil rights groups as unnecessarily targeting an already marginalized group of people.
“Transgender people belong everywhere, but with the stroke of a pen and a public display, Governor Stitt has sent a clear message to vulnerable transgender youth in Oklahoma that they are neither welcome nor accepted. in our state,” said Tamya Cox-Toure, the executive. director of the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Ultimately, SB2 violates the United States Constitution and federal civil rights law, puts Oklahoma at risk of losing federal funding, and harms transgender youth, all to address a problem that doesn’t exist. not.”
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The state’s governing body for high school sports, the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activity Association, has had a policy in place since 2015 regarding the participation of transgender athletes in sports, but OSSAA spokesperson Van Shea Iven said no school has ever requested the application of the policy for a male student transitioning to a female.
Outside the room where Stitt signed the bill, Cara Kleber, 26, who is transgender, held a sign that read, “How does it feel to bully kids who need support? “
“They won’t stop trans kids from playing sports, having fun, or living their lives,” Kleber said. “What they are going to do with this bill is tell them that they are not invited into spaces and among everyone, that they are not equal, that they are not loved, let’s not take care of them.”
A similar bill did not advance last year, but several supporters of the measure said they were convinced to vote for it after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a trans woman, won a title earlier this month at the NCAA Women’s Division I National Championship.
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Some opponents had raised concerns about the NCAA pulling sports tournaments from Oklahoma, including the Women’s College World Series held annually in Oklahoma City, but Stitt said he doesn’t. wasn’t worried.
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“We’re not worried about that because we know Oklahomans are with us and the majority of Americans are with us as well,” he said.
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