- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 26, 2021

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Critics of legislation that addresses gender in school sports say the proposal discriminates against transgender students in North Dakota.

The bill would prohibit public schools from allowing a person to participate on a girls or boys team if the person “was assigned the opposite sex at birth.”

Its sponsor, Republican Rep. Ben Koppelman, says the bill would ensure fair competition for girls in middle and high school sports. But, opponents say it excludes transgender students from athletics.

“If we choose to do nothing, we will by default be allowing those opportunities of our women to be lost or greatly reduced as society attempts to remove any reference to biological sex and replaces it with a social construct of self-identification,” Koppelman told House Human Services Committee members Monday.

Supporters of the bill say it would ensure fairness and preserve progress for girls and women’s sports under Title IX, the federal law that protects people from sex-based discrimination in school programs and activities, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Opponents also said the bill gives North Dakota a poor image when it comes to welcoming minority groups.

“Personally, this bill as well as other anti-LGBT legislation has encouraged me to live in Minnesota despite cheaper taxes, lower house prices and better commerce in Fargo,” Concordia College Head Women’s Soccer Coach Rebecca Quimby said.

Quimby said she and her wife, Chelsea, felt their rights as an LGBT couple would be better protected in Minnesota.

The committee did not take immediate action on the bill.

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