(The Center Square) – Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill Wednesday that bans transgender girls and women from competing in women’s sports.
Senate Bill 2 will allow students to file for injunctive relief if they feel they were affected by a violation of the rule.
“The measure also prohibits the State Board of Education, the State Regents, and any athletic association from entering a complaint, opening an investigation, or taking any other adverse action against a school for maintaining athletic teams for students of the female sex,” according to the bill.
Stitt said in a news conference the bill is “common sense.”
“Guys, we’re not being intellectually honest with ourselves if we think it’s OK for biological males to compete in women’s sports,” Stitt said. “People can pursue their life how they see fit, but that doesn’t give you the right to compete in women’s sports.”
Oklahoma is the fourth state to pass a law this year prohibiting transgender women from competing in women’s sports. Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana vetoed a similar bill earlier this month. Indiana lawmakers have indicated they will override the veto when they meet again May 24.
Utah lawmakers overrode a veto by Gov. Spencer Cox of a similar bill. Cox said he was concerned about legal and financial implications. After the veto was tossed, lawmakers passed a bill that created a $500,000 indemnity fund for school boards and athletics association that face lawsuits.
The Center Square asked Stitt’s office whether there were concerns about how schools boards and athletic associations would pay for potential lawsuits. The office’s reply was, “No.”
Sen. Michael Bergstrom, R-Adair, agreed with Stitt on the bill.
“For me, it was just a simple matter of looking and saying, ‘The Save Women’s Sport Act is common sense,’ and it’s in some ways, showing respect to our young women and our daughters and our granddaughters,'” Bergstrom said at a news conference.
Rep. Mauree Turner, D-Oklahoma City, disagreed. Turner was one of several speakers who shared their stories at a news conference Tuesday arranged by the Human Rights Campaign.
The bill could have an effect on Oklahoma’s ability to attract new industry, Turner said.
“More than 180 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out against anti-transgender legislation, Turner said.
Others asked Stitt not to sign the bill.
“This fight is not about sports,” said Cindy Nguyen, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union. “It is about erasing and excluding trans people and children in every aspect of life.”
The bill takes effect immediately.