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Bill barring transgender student athletes from competition heads to Oklahoma Governor's desk

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A bill that would ban trans student athletes from competing in women’s sports in Oklahoma is on its way to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk.

Senate Bill 2 precludes trans student athletes from competing in women’s sports. The measure is a holdover from last session. It was amended and approved in the House in April 2021, but didn’t clear the Senate before session ended.

Senators picked it back up Thursday and approved it 37-7.

Republican lawmakers tout it as the Save Women’s Sports Act. Bartlesville Senator Julie Daniels says it will protect competition among female student athletes.

“Women are women, and they have the right to compete against other women, and have the same opportunities as men to advance in the athletic endeavors that they are good at,” she said.

House Republicans signaled they approved of the ideas in their old bill last session, passing another similar measure Wednesday in House Bill 4245.

But Democrats adamantly disagreed. Oklahoma City’s Julia Kirt says the measure would hurt transgender children by preventing them from playing with their peers. She says passing it erases their identity as transgender people.

“Transgender people are people first and foremost and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” Kirt said.

Rep. Mauree Turner, is one of the few openly LGBTQ people in the Oklahoma legislature. A member of the rules committee, they said bans from athletics would hurt trans students earlier this month.

“It says that they’re not welcome to participate in sports with us,” they said. “It says that we don’t want to see them, we don’t want to hear them, we don’t want to participate in things with them.”

SB 2 now moves to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk. Similar measures have become law across GOP-controlled states this year. However, GOP governors in Utah and Indiana have recently vetoed virtually identical bills.

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