State Watch

Montana governor approves restrictions on transgender athletes in schools

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) on Friday signed into law a bill banning transgender girls from female sports teams at state schools.

The legislation is the latest in a series of bills passed or proposed in GOP-led states seeking to restrict participation in sports based on biological sex. 

The Montana bill, also known as the Save Women’s Sports Act, requires that “public school athletic teams” at elementary schools, high schools or universities must be “designated based on biological sex.” 

The legislation specifies that teams must be explicitly characterized as for male players, for female players or co-ed and that “athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex.” 

CNN, Fox News and other news outlets reported the signing Friday, though Gianforte’s office did not publicize the approval as it did for other measures approved this week on tax cuts in the state. 

Gianforte also did not publicize his signing last week of Senate Bill 280, which states that transgender residents can change the sex on their birth certificate only after providing proof of gender confirmation surgery. 

The Hill has reached out to Gianforte’s office for comment. 

The laws come as dozens of state legislatures across the U.S. have proposed measures targeting transgender people, including ones restricting their participation in sports over arguments from Republicans that doing so will maintain a level playing field for cisgender girls participating in school sports. 

However, Democrats and advocacy groups have argued that the measures unfairly target transgender athletes and violate nondiscrimination rules. 

Following news of Gianforte’s signing Friday, the Human Rights Campaign tweeted that the “law is wrong,” adding that “sports are for everyone.” 

The organization included a link to a petition for people to “show anti-equality legislators that we won’t tolerate any more bullying and discrimination,” adding that it has pledged to “fight back against every anti-transgender piece of legislation that comes our way.” 

Beyond Montana, similar measures have been signed into law in Idaho, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has committed to signing a recently passed bill in the Sunshine State’s legislature. 

In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) issued an executive order banning transgender athletes from women’s sports in the state.

Other states have not been successful in passing such measures, including Kansas, where Republican lawmakers on Monday failed to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto of a proposed transgender sports ban. 

Kelly in a statement called the bill a “devastating message that Kansas is not welcoming to all children and their families, including those who are transgender — who are already at a higher risk of bullying, discrimination, and suicide.”

Tags Alabama anti-transgender legislation Arkansas CNN Florida Fox News girls sports Greg Gianforte Human Rights Campaign Kristi Noem Mississippi Montana Ron DeSantis South Dakota Tenneesee Transgender ban West Virginia Women's sports

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