Kentucky lawmakers passed SB 83, which would bar transgender girls from playing girls' sports beginning in sixth grade up to college. Kentucky Democrat Governor Andy Beshear will now review the bill. Photograph:( Twitter )
These bans are argued to be necessary to prevent transgender athletes from gaining an unfair advantage
On Thursday, Arizona, Oklahoma and Kentucky passed bills banning transgender youths from participating in girls' sports, continuing a flurry of state legislation on a hotly debated election-year issue.
Arizona lawmakers also passed legislation prohibiting physicians from performing gender-affirming surgery on minors in addition to the "Save Women's Sports Act" sponsored by Republicans.
These bills are on their way to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who is also a Republican. The Arizona legislature also passed a third bill, which would ban abortions after 15 weeks of gestation.
As a result, the votes largely went along party lines.
"Why would we be legislating bullying against children who want to...participate in sports?" Democratic Representative Kelli Butler asked in an emotional speech on Thursday. "That's not the country that I know and that I am proud to be a part of."
Oklahoma's legislature also passed a bill on Thursday with the same name: the "Save Women's Sports Act".
Kentucky lawmakers passed SB 83, which would bar transgender girls from playing girls' sports beginning in sixth grade up to college. Kentucky Democrat Governor Andy Beshear will now review the bill.
Democratic lawmakers have generally supported the rights of LGBTQ+ people and opposed restrictions on transgender students' participation in sports teams. Beshear's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
These bans are argued to be necessary to prevent transgender athletes from gaining an unfair advantage.
Some opponents of the bans, such as advocates for transgender people and organisations like the Women's Sports Foundation, say that such measures are discriminatory and that transgender students should be allowed to participate in school sports.
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A number of states have already enacted laws banning transgender girls from participating in girls' sports, including Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Iowa.
Last week, Utah's Governor and Indiana's Governor vetoed similar bills. This signalled Republican leaders' reluctance to align with the party as a whole, which views the issue as a means of attracting voters ahead of next year's congressional elections.
Earlier this week, Republican lawmakers in both states said they intended to override the governor's vetoes.
(With inputs from agencies)