The Republican-controlled Mississippi Senate passed a bill on Feb. 11 prohibiting transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports at state schools and universities.
Senate Bill 2536, known as the Mississippi Fairness Act, passed 34-9. According to the Associated Press, four senators voted “present,” which does not count for or against the measure, and five senators did not vote.
“I’ve had numerous coaches across the state call me and believe that they feel there’s a need for a policy in Mississippi because they are beginning to have some concerns of having to deal with this,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Angela Hill.
The bill states that there are “inherent differences” between men and women and these differences “remain cause for celebration, but not for denigration of the members of either sex or for artificial constraints on an individual’s opportunity.”
Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, immediately condemned the bill, stating: “Mississippi’s rush to take on these risks, amid a pandemic, when there is no problem that even needs addressing, speaks volumes about Mississippi’s priorities and prejudices.”
This bill comes after President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Jan. 20 banning discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere.
In response to Biden’s executive order, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, the father of three daughters, tweeted on Feb. 4 that their family is passionate about his daughters’ athletic endeavors, the lessons learned and opportunities gained—which applies to all female athletes, he said.
“I am so disappointed over President Biden’s actions to force young girls like them to compete with biological males for access to athletics,” Reeves wrote. “It will limit opportunity for so many competitors like my daughters. It is bad policy and it is wrong for America. I don’t understand why politicians are pushing children into transgenderism in the first place. I certainly don’t understand why the president chose to make it a priority. And my heart breaks for the young women across America who will lose in this radical social experiment.”
The bill now heads to the Mississippi House of Representatives for consideration.