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New Montana law aimed at protecting women’s sports

Women's track lzf/Shutterstock

Montana’s governor signed a bill on Friday requiring public school athletic teams to be designated by biological sex rather than gender identity.

The "Save Women's Sports Act,” signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte (R), would limit participation in women’s sports to only biological females, excluding biological males identifying as transgender females. The law states, “Athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex.” It is scheduled to go into effect on July 1.

The bill follows a wave of comparable legislation in states including Idaho, Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Kansas. 

In a statement, Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for the group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said, “Allowing males to compete in girls’ sports destroys fair competition and women’s athletic opportunities.” 

ADF is currently representing female track runners in a lawsuit against the state of Connecticut; the state in 2017 began a policy allowing biological males identifying as transgender females to compete in women’s athletics.

The lawsuit is based on Title IXof the Education Amendments of 1972, federal law which prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally-funded education activities and programs. The group has argued that policies allowing athletes to participate in sports based on their gender identity can put girls at a disadvantage. 

Holcomb said that Gianforte and the state legislature “have acted to preserve a level playing field for all female athletes in the state, whether in high school or college.” 

“This bill protects athletic opportunities for women and girls and gives them vital legal recourse against unfair policies that arise,” she added. 

“In the face of ongoing pressure from woke corporations and special interests to reject this type of legislation, we are especially grateful to Gov. Gianforte, Rep. Fuller, and the Montana Legislature for taking a courageous stand and ensuring fairness for women and girls as they continue to pursue their dreams,” she said. 

The Human Rights Campaign, a group that says it fights for “LGBTQ equality and inclusion,” said in a tweet referencing the Montana law, “Sports are for everyone. This law is wrong.”

Some state governors, including Kristi Noem of South Dakota (R), have vetoed transgender sports bills or have pledged not to support them; Noem herself requested an amended version of a transgender sports bill to exclude strict requirements for college sports. Once her proposed amendments failed to pass the state legislature, she issued an executive order to “protect” women’s sports, adding that she would still work for a special legislative session to address the issue. 

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