(The Center Square) – Delaware Republicans are making another push to prohibit student-athletes from competing on athletic teams or in sports not associated with their biological sex.
A proposal expected to be filed this week by the Senate’s GOP minority caucus would prohibit transgender girls — or girls born as boys — from playing on girls’ sports teams.
The bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Bryant Richardson, R-Seaford, said the Fairness in Girls’ Sports Act is aimed at ensuring a “level playing-field” for female student athletes by requiring student athletes to participate in a sport associated with their biological sex.
“With the rise of male students participating in female sports across the nation, it is important we protect female athletes in Delaware, guaranteeing fairness and equal opportunity for success,” he said in a statement.
Another bill backer, state Sen. Eric Buckson, R-Dover, stressed the physical differences between male and female athletes, something he said he has seen “first hand” as an athletic coach and wrestling referee.
“There are certainly exceptions, but on average, a boy is physically stronger and faster than a girl. We need to do all we can to protect girls and not place female athletes at a competitive disadvantage,” Buckson said in a statement.
A similar GOP proposal was filed last year in the previous legislative session but failed to advance amid fierce opposition from Democratic legislative leaders.
Supporters of the measure say it would protect female athletes from unfair competition in youth sports and argue that allowing transgender girls to participate in girls’ sports undermines Title IX, landmark federal legislation approved by Congress in 1972 to increase opportunities for women and girls in sports.
They cite a recent Gallup poll showing 69% of respondents believe individuals should only participate on teams and in sports that match their biological sex.
But critics argue the changes would be discriminatory and potentially harmful to transgender athletes and are based on bigotry and misunderstanding about gender identity.
At least 20 states have enacted legislation restricting biological males from participating in women’s sports. In Congress, Republicans have filed a resolution defining sex under Title IX as “a person’s biological sex at birth” amid calls from female athletic groups.
The changes come as the Biden administration seeks to make changes to the Title IX law to make it illegal for schools to ban transgender students from sports teams that align with their gender identity, not their assigned sex at birth.