ATLANTA — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned today’s decision by the Georgia High School Association to ban transgender athletes from participating in sports on teams, that match their gender identity.
“This needless push towards discrimination against transgender student athletes, which appears to have reached its peak today, deepens Georgia’s troubling track record on these issues and unnecessarily harms an already vulnerable population.” said Dewayne Johnson, HRC’s Georgia State Director. “The legislature was on the brink of disruption last month when Gov. Kemp put his thumb on the scales to bring the issue up again. Now the Georgia High School Association has followed his example and enacted this ban, and Georgia’s transgender students will suffer. This is a farce and should be reversed.” “This decision is absolutely devastating for families like mine,” said Jen Slipakoff, a Georgia resident and parent of a transgender student. “The cruelty with which the most vulnerable children are being persecuted is truly astounding. The painful consequences will adversely affect the mental health of every trans child and will negatively impact them for years to come, if not the rest of their lives. Shame on the GHSA for putting politics before children.”
Today’s decision follows last month’s passage of House Bill 1084, which was amended at the request of Governor Kemp in the closing hours of the legislature to include the creation of a commission that would have the power to ban transgender student athletes.
A recent survey found that 65.1% of LGBTQ+ people in Georgia had reported experiencing depression in the past two weeks — more than three times the number of non-LGBTQ+ Georgians reporting the same thing. Politicians are responsible for the damage they cause by subjecting vulnerable youth to ongoing legislative attacks.
Strong opposition to discriminatory attacks on the LGBTQ+ population
This is shown by the latest PRRI data Support for LGBTQ+ rights is increasing in Georgia and nationally: 76% of Georgians support protection against non-discrimination, and 59% of Georgians oppose conscientious objection on religious grounds. About eight in 10 Americans (79%) support legislation that would protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in jobs, public places and homes. This reflects an 11 percent increase in the proportion of Americans who support antidiscrimination protections since 2015 (71%).
Anti-transgender discrimination in sport is fought by prominent advocates for women and girls in sport — such as the National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, Women Leaders in College Sports, and others — who support trans-inclusive policies and efforts opposed to excluding transgender students from participating in sports. So have prominent athletes like Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe and Cheryl Reeve.
LGBTQ+ children face real threats and obstacles. 86% of LGBTQ+ youth say they have been the victim of bullying, harassment or assault at school. Studies have shown that bullying and harassment of LGBTQ+ youth contribute to high levels of absenteeism, school dropout, negative health outcomes and underachievement in school. Kids want to play sports for the same reasons: be part of a team, learn discipline, and most importantly, have fun with their friends. Children should not be excluded from sport because of their personality.
A campaign of hate that is spreading across the country
This year, statewide officials in Texas have attempted to criminalize transitional care for minors, and lawmakers in Alabama are about to pass appropriate legislation. In FloridaIf it becomes law, the “Don’t say gay or trans” law is intended to prevent teachers from speaking about LGBTQ+ issues or people, further stigmatize LGBTQ+ people, and isolate LGBTQ+ children. Iowa recently became the country’s first state to enact nationwide anti-discrimination protections that include LGBTQ+ people in a bid to reverse course by banning transgender women and girls from participating in sports that conform to their gender identity. And in South DakotaGovernor Noem said it “sads me” to hear about the high rates of depression among LGBTQ+ people in her state just days after she enacted the first anti-trans law of 2022.
While the sponsors of these bills make disingenuous claims about what their bills will accomplish, their supporters are revealing their true intentions. Advisors and associates to Republican governors in Florida, Texas and South Dakota, as well as a legislature in Iowa, have issued public statements this year, revealing that these bills are more about prejudice against transgender people than any real political position.
Organizations supporting Senator Lee’s legislation include a litany of anti-LGBTQ+ organizations, including Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council. The work of these groups includes efforts to criminalize LGBTQ+ relationships, to challenge established laws like marriage equality, and even to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Businesses, advocacy groups and athletes oppose anti-trans legislation
Nearly 200 major US companies have opposed proposed anti-transgender legislation in states across the country. Companies such as Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Dell, Dow, Google, IBM, Lyft, Marriott, Microsoft, Nike and Paypal have objected to these bills. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory laws that serve as an attack on LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender and non-binary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “concern” about the trend of anti-transgender legislation that was recently enacted into Arkansas law.
The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups, representing more than 7 million youth service professionals and more than 1,000 children’s charities, have released an open letter urging state legislators across the country to oppose dozens of bills , which specifically target LGBTQ+ people and transgender children.
Nearly 550 collegiate athletes have defied anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states that have enacted anti-trans sports laws.
A survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group found that the public is strongly on the side of fairness and equality for transgender sports students when it comes to transgender youth participation in sports. 73% of voters agree that “sport is important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be given opportunities to participate in ways that are safe and convenient for them.”
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization campaigning for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are accepted as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.