Louisiana's Legislature is on the cusp of passing a transgender sports ban to prohibit transgender athletes from competing on girls' and women's teams with only a possible veto from Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards standing in the way of it becoming law.
The state House voted 72-21 late Tuesday to pass Republican Sen. Beth Mizell's Senate Bill 44, which has already cleared the Senate but must return there for a final perfunctory vote because it was amended to remove intramural sports.
Republican Metairie Rep. Laurie Schlegel, who presented the bill in the House, said the bill "is about protecting women's opportunities and fairness in sports."
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Opponents like House Democratic Chairman Sam Jenkins of Shreveport said the bill bullies vulnerable transgender children.
"These children, our children, will only see this as an attack," Jenkins said. "These kids will see us as bullies. Some people are just flat out uncomfortable with the existence of transgender children in our state."
Mizell's bill and those like it have been flashpoints in state legislatures across the country during the past two years as one of the culture war issues that spark heated debate.
Louisiana's Legislature passed the same bill last year by Mizell, but was unable to overturn Edwards' veto, coming up two votes short in the House.
The issue was elevated in March when Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania became the first known transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I national championship after taking the 500-yard freestyle swimming title.
Edwards has reiterated his opposition this year, though he hasn't said whether he will veto the bill again.
Republican governors Spencer Cox (Utah) and Eric Holcomb (Indiana) vetoed similar bills in March. The Utah State Legislature then voted to override the veto. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, also a Republican, vetoed a similar bill in 2021. Democratic governors Laura Kelly (Kansas) and Andy Beshear (Kentucky) also vetoed similar bills.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Louisiana House passes transgender sports ban. What's next?