OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A bill that aims to “preserve and protect” the rights of biological female athletes in Oklahoma passed out of the House Rules Committee on Thursday.
House Bill 4245, also known as the Women’s Sports Act, was authored by Representative Toni Hasenbeck, R-District 65.
If signed into law, HB4245 wouldn’t allow male students to play on female athletic teams.
The law also states that prior to the beginning of each school year, parents/guardians would have to sign an affidavit that recognizes their student athlete’s biological sex from birth. If the student athlete is 18 years old, they themselves would sign the affidavit recognizing their born sex.
When HB4245 was in committee, Rep. Hasenbeck stated that this is a current issue in Oklahoma.
“Just last week, I had a family contact me and they told me that their daughter was competing against a child that was born as a male, and that has been repeated,” said Rep. Hasenbeck. “I’ve had many families come forward in the last year and tell this to me, tell this to other members.”
But there was pushback from others on the committee, including Rep. Emily Virgin, D-District 44 and Representative Mauree Turner, D-District 88.
“I would remind everyone this conversation that we had last session. There is a policy in place. OSSAA has a policy in place*. There have been no complaints filed under that policy,” said Rep. Virgin. “If this is truly an issue, then why is that policy not good enough? Why are there not complaints being filed? What that tells me is that these instances are not happening in our public schools. Any school that is governed by OSSAA, it’s simply not happening.”
OSSAA also confirmed this policy.
“We have had a policy (OSSAA Board Policy LVIII) in place since 2015 that address transgender student’s participation but have not had a school request enforcement of the policy for a male student transitioning to female.”Van Shea Iven, OSSAA Sports Information Director
“I think it’s important to note, right, first and foremost that trans women and girls are women and girls,” said Rep. Turner. “When we are talking about sports that students engage in, they do so to learn about leadership skills, to become friends, right, to grow as a student and a future leader, right, and so to deny trans folks the opportunity to participate in sports, not only denies them the opportunity to grow those key aspects, those key characteristics that make someone a contributing member of society, as we continuously say we are trying to build here in the legislature, but it also says and invalidates these children, these students, their existence. It says that they’re not welcome to participate in sports with us. 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.”
Rep. Hasenbeck stated that there is definitely work that needs to be done when it comes to addressing the challenges of marginalized groups.
“This is a group of children who have been marginalized in their homes, in their Sunday School classes, in their classrooms, on the playground. I understand that. We have to reach a better solution other than allowing females to have times that are recorded and set at a national level defeated by biological male students and children,” said Rep. Hasenbeck. “That’s the part that’s not fair in this. It’s not fair for anyone. It’s not fair for this marginalized child to yet find another place to be marginalized.”
Rep. Hasenbeck later stated that it also comes down to biology.
“First of all, I’d like to state that this is to protect females engaging in sporting events,” said Rep. Hasenbeck. “We know that universities operate on national times, and we know that when biological males participate in these sports, they are faster because they have denser bones, they have more lung capacity, they have the abilities for their nerves and muscles to communicate in a faster way. We are not equal in this way. There are many reasons to celebrate the differences between males and females. But what we don’t want to do is we don’t want to create a situation where we are failing to protect our females so that they have a right. Girls have a right to excel in their sport and compete for records on a national scale, to compete for scholarships in universities and not have those taken. I do at the same time acknowledge we’ve got to figure something out for students that are biological males.”
HB4245 passed the House Rules Committee with a 6-2 vote on Thursday.
*The policy is on page 36 of the OSSAA’s Board of Directors’ Policies document.