Utah lawmakers voted on Friday to overturn Republican Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto of H.B. 11, which would ban transgender youth athletes from competing on girls’ sports teams, according to a report from Fox News.
The victory was significant and timely in light of the national dialogue regarding the ethical question of whether or not transgender girls (biological boys) should be allowed to compete on biological girls’ teams.
According to the Fox News report, the veto was overridden with a 56-18 vote in the House, followed by an approval vote of 21-8 in the Senate.
In an official statement shared on his Twitter account, Gov. Cox addressed his veto of the bill, claiming that while he believed in the “fairness and protecting the integrity of women’s sports,” he had to veto the bill because of the “millions of dollars in legal fees for local school districts with no state protection,” among a few other stated reasons.
Some of those included his desire to see sports participation from the “marginalized” transgender youth and the risk of “insolvency and bankruptcy” for school districts that could get sued under the bill.
However, most Republican lawmakers disagreed with Cox’s nuanced reasoning on his veto of the bill, acting instead to pass H.B. 11. The move to protect girls’ sports comes on the heels of the NCAA women’s swimming championship controversy, which saw a biological male, Lia Thomas, take first place last week in the 500-yard freestyle. The runner-up, Emma Weyant, has been declared by many, including Gov. DeSantis, to be the rightful winner of the competition.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., addressed the controversy in a statement on Twitter: “By allowing men to compete in women’s sports, the NCAA is destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships, and perpetuating a fraud. In Florida, we reject these lies and recognize Sarasota’s Emma Weyant as the best women’s swimmer in the 500y freestyle.”
As Utah moves to codify the protections for girls’ teams from male participation, many other states are doing the same, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, and Montana, according to a report from News Nation.
It remains to be seen if more states will strengthen protections on girls’ sports teams heading into 2022. However, if the midterm season nets Republicans a “red wave” of victories across the country, which looks likely, the odds are good that GOP lawmakers will lean toward protecting girls’ teams nationwide.