The laws would ban transgender youth from participating in sports teams, and would block gender reassignment procedures for minors

LINCOLN – Nebraska would join at least 18 other states that have passed bans on transgender youth playing on sports teams, under legislation introduced Tuesday in the Nebraska Legislature.

The “Sports and Spaces” proposal, introduced by state Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha and 27 co-sponsors, would limit the participation of young athletes to teams sponsored by schools designated for their “biological” sex.

“It just seems like common sense,” Kauth said.

House Bill 575 would also block biological boys from girls’ locker rooms and vice versa. The senator said he would also ban “bigger, stronger, faster” biological boys from playing women’s sports.

‘Let Them Grow Act’

Senator, who was appointed to her position in June by the then governor. Pete Ricketts, also introduced the “Let Them Grow Act” which would block all gender reassignment procedures before a person’s 19th birthday.

Kathleen Kauth
State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha (Craig Chandler/University Communications)

That proposal, LB 574, recognizes that sex-reassignment surgeries are “irrevocable” and “life-changing,” Kauth said, and that a “watchful waiting” policy is better.

“We have to give kids a chance to think and grow, to complete all their physical development and make those decisions when they grow up,” Kauth said.

Kauth’s proposals will have an ally in incoming governor Jim Pillen, whose campaign website has pledged to “oppose the radical transgender agenda at every turn.”

‘Deeply Harmful’

The proposals were immediately criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska as “alarming acts of government overreach” and a “deeply damaging” attack on transgender youth.

“Trans youth belong in Nebraska and should be able to grow up just the way they are,” said Jane Seu, legal and policy counsel for the ACLU of Nebraska.

Currently, the Nebraska State Activities Association, which governs school sports in the state, has a process where “credentialed” trans students can play sports consistent with their gender identity.

Under the policy, students must provide proof of their “consistent gender identification” and completion of at least one year of hormone treatment or show that they have undergone a gender reassignment procedure. In the case of a transgender woman, the NSAA committee must also determine that the student “does not have a physical … or physiological advantage over genetic women . . .”

Five of them satisfied the current policy

Five students have been cleared to participate in sports consistent with their gender identity since 2017, according to Jay Bellaro, NSAA executive director.

Kauth said that her proposal on sports is clearer than the current policy and more fair to women who had to fight for the right to sports.

Howard Brown Health, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ organizations, argues that such sports bans are discriminatory and deny students activities that build self-esteem and leadership skills.

The organization says that such accounts are a a threat to an “already vulnerable community” and that there is no “compelling scientific evidence” that transgender women have physical advantages.

Eighteen states, including Iowa and South Dakota, have adopted sports bans, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a think tank that tracks such policies.


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