Education Committee holds hearing on the ‘Sports and Spaces Act’

Nebraska State Capitol
Nebraska State Capitol(MGN)
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 10:40 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The Nebraska Legislature’s Education Committee started another week of the legislative session hearing public testimony on another controversial transgender bill, this one dealing with youth sports.

LB 575 was introduced by State Senator Kathleen Kauth, who also recently introduced the ‘Let Them Grow’ bill to ban transgender medical procedures on minors. Testimony on Monday’s sports bill lasted hours and prompted strong opinions on both sides. The bill would only allow kids to play on K-12 sports teams that match their biological sex, not the gender they identify with.

“As legislators, it is in the interest of the State of Nebraska to protect the dignity, privacy, and ability to compete fairly of all children in our schools,” Kauth said.

Supporters of the bill said biological males have a physical advantage over females and allowing them on girls’ teams can take away opportunities for biological girls. Opponents said the bill sends the message that transgender kids don’t belong.

“Even if they were considering sports, they wouldn’t be able to,” said Abbi Swatsworth with OutNebraska. “They wouldn’t even think about it because they know that it would be blocked.”

The bill would also prohibit boys and girls from using locker rooms and bathrooms that don’t match their biological sex. One supporter of the bill, high school student Walker Hill, said this would give students safety and security.

“Why is it fair that they share a space that’s supposed to provide privacy and security to students who wish to change clothes or use the restroom?” Hill said.

Opponents said this issue is already being governed by the Nebraska School Activities Association. According to NSAA policy, a transgender student who hasn’t had sex reassignment surgery has to use the bathroom or locker room that matches their biological sex or has to be assigned a private bathroom or locker room facility, leading opponents to say the bill is not needed.

“That seems like legislation that’s looking for a problem that doesn’t exist,” Swatsworth said.

The bill also clarifies that biological girls would be able to participate on boys’ sports teams, but only if the sport isn’t offered for girls at their school.

No action was taken Monday. We’ll keep you updated on the status of this bill.