A bill passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly that would prevent males from competing in women’s sports in the state’s public schools and universities hit a roadblock on July 8 in the form of a veto by Governor Tom Wolf.
House Bill 972 (HB 972), known as the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” requires that athletic teams or sports designated for females in the state’s public primary, high schools, public colleges and universities be open only to students of the female sex.
If the bill had been signed into law, Pennsylvania would have joined a movement of 18 other states that have already protected women’s sports from unfair competition from men who claim to be women.
Gov. Wolf told reporters that the state’s legislators who passed the bill should be ashamed of themselves.
“The fact that this bill passed through Pennsylvania’s Republican-led General Assembly solely to bully and oppress vulnerable children is atrocious,” Wolf told the news outlet PennWatch. “These members should be ashamed of themselves for proposing and voting on policies that are discriminatory, unnecessary, and incredibly harmful.”
In Wolf’s veto message to the state legislature, the governor claimed the bill discriminated against what he termed “transgender girls and women.”
“This discriminatory legislation would prohibit transgender girls and women from participating on women’s athletic teams or sports. The bill denies opportunities to transgender youth, which would have a devastating impact on a vulnerable population already at greater risk of bullying and depression,” Wolf wrote.
But what about the rights of women, who for 50 years since the passage of Title IX by Congress have themselves been protected from discrimination in education, particularly in sports?
The Pennsylvania Family Institute (PA Family) is a leading advocate for families across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and an ally of Focus on the Family. In a press release, the organization decried the governor’s veto.
“Governor Wolf’s veto is a massive slap in the face to the women and girls of Pennsylvania and their ability to fairly compete in sports,” said Emily Kreps, Legal Assistant at PA Family. “Women will be left to race for second and face serious injuries in many sports, all because the Governor has put ideology above basic realities about biology.
“In high schools and colleges in Pennsylvania, males identifying as female (like swimmer Lia Thomas from Penn) are competing on women’s teams. By his veto, Governor Wolf is allowing this unfair practice to continue,” she added.
Lia Thomas, you may recall, is the male collegiate swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, who after competing on the men’s swim team from 2017 to 2020, declared himself to be a “transgender woman” and for the next two years swam on the women’s team, even “winning” the NCAA Division 1 championship in the women’s 500-yard freestyle event.
PA Family also noted that the protection of women’s sports is extremely popular in Pennsylvania. In a recent poll of registered voters, 75% of Pennsylvanians expressed support for such a law.
Men and boys who suffer from gender confusion deserve compassionate counseling to help them accept their male bodies and the sexual identity with which God has gifted them. On the other hand, indulging their confusion by allowing men to compete against women is not only unfair but, as PA Family noted, sometimes dangerous to the women and girls they compete against.
There’s been no word yet as to whether the Pennsylvania legislature will attempt a veto override, or if there are sufficient votes to do so.