Equality Utah has put out a call to supporters about two bills being debated on Capitol Hill that will significantly impact the LGBTQ community.
If passed, House Bill 11 will create a path for K–12 transgender student-athletes to play sports. It would create a commission to determine the individual eligibility for transgender and non-binary youth to participate, instead of an outright ban.
“However, we are not yet in a position to support this legislation,” writes Troy Williams, executive director of the group, in a statement. “We’ve told Rep. Birkeland that we have two major concerns. First, we do not believe that the commission should be appointed by partisan elected officials. We worry that in the future, some appointments may be politicized by a person who has a bias against transgender students. Second, we believe that in the bill’s current draft, the qualifications of the commissioners place far too much weight on the value of competition, and far too little on the value of participation, especially in the context of high school.”
“This is not the Olympics,” Williams continues. “Out of approximately 80,000 registered high school athletes in Utah, there is an exceptionally small number of transgender students who want to participate in sports — fewer than .01 percent, or 1 in 10,000. And just like any other student, transgender students want to play sports because it’s healthy and fun. We want our transgender youth to have this opportunity, because it’s important for all of us to learn how to work together as a team, to set goals and achieve them, and to bounce back after a loss.”
Equality Utah currently does not support HB 11. They say they are open to working with lawmakers and finding a compromise.
“If the bill is significantly amended to better value transgender youth, we may change our position. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that transgender students are supported and loved,” Williams wrote.
For the third year in a row, the Utah Eagle Forum and other ultra-conservative groups are attempting to prohibit doctors from prescribing or performing medical or mental health procedures for those under 18 years of age.
“HB 127 prohibits doctors from following the standards of care established by every leading medical and mental health organization in the country and the world,” Williams wrote. “This is only the most recent chapter in the Eagle Forum’s long-standing crusade against LGBTQ Utahns. We have been defending our community against these attacks for decades. We will never stop fighting to protect LGBTQ youth.”
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Rex Shipp, would get between parents and doctors for evidence-based medical care to their transgender patients. The bill has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.
“HB 127 is a violation of medical ethics and parental rights,” Williams wrote. “The government has no right to come between doctors, patients, and their parents. The standards of care for transgender youth have been well established by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the Endocrine Society, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.”
The group is asking supporters to contact their House representative and ask them to vote no on HB 127. To find your representative’s contact info, go to le.utah.gov and click on “My Legislators.”