Wisconsin governor vetoes bill barring biological males from girls' sports

A progress pride flag is held above the crowd of LGBT activists during the Los Angeles LGBT Center in West Hollywood, California, on April 9, 2023.
A progress pride flag is held above the crowd of LGBT activists during the Los Angeles LGBT Center in West Hollywood, California, on April 9, 2023. | ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images

Democrat Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has vetoed a bill that, if passed, would prohibit men who identify as women from participating in scholastic sports designated for girls.

Evers announced on Tuesday that he had vetoed Assembly Bill 377, a measure passed by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature and presented to Evers last week.

“This type of legislation, and the harmful rhetoric beget by pursuing it, harms LGBTQ Wisconsinites’ and kids’ mental health, emboldens anti-LGBTQ harassment, bullying, and violence, and threatens the safety and dignity of LGBTQ Wisconsinites, especially our LGBTQ kids,” stated Evers in his veto message.

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“I will veto any bill that makes Wisconsin a less safe, less inclusive, and less welcoming place for LGBTQ people and kids, and I will continue to keep my promise of using every power available to me to defend them, protect their rights, and keep them safe.”

Evers said that although many other states have passed similar measures, “Wisconsin will not be among them” while “I am the governor of this great state.”

“We expect our kids to treat each other with kindness, respect, empathy, and compassion, and we should be able to expect adults to lead by example,” he added.

“I urge the Republican majority to do so while fully considering the harmful consequences its efforts and actions have on our kids prior to introducing similar legislation in the future.”

The American Principles Project, a conservative group that has advocated for measures like AB 377, denounced Evers’ decision to veto the legislation in a Tuesday statement. 

“Governor Evers’ veto of protections for those girl athletes is an especially cowardly surrender to the extremist ideologues who continue to deny biological reality,” said APP President Terry Schilling, as quoted in the statement.

“Fortunately, the American people have not been fooled by this charade. They recognize that girls’ sports are under threat, which is why polls consistently show the vast majority of voters support legislation that protects female athletes.”

Schilling also said that, eventually, “far-left Democrats will have to face the political consequences of their radicalism, and APP intends to make sure Wisconsin families are fully informed on these issues heading into this fall’s election.”

Introduced in August 2023, AB 377 passed the Wisconsin House last October in a vote of 63 ayes to 35 noes. Last month, the bill passed the state Senate in a vote of 21 ayes to 11 noes.

The bill prohibits “pupils of the male sex from participating on an athletic team or in an athletic sport that is designated for females,” with the legislation defining “sex” as “determined at birth by a physician and reflected on the birth certificate.”

In recent years, several states have passed laws barring biological males who identify as female from participating in girls’ sports, with some of these measures facing legal challenges.

Critics of the legislation have argued that they unfairly exclude trans-identified individuals from competitions, while supporters have argued that such restrictions are necessary, as trans-identified females often retain biological advantages over the women and girls they would compete against.

At present, 24 states have passed laws mandating that student-athletes compete on sports teams that correspond with their biological sex rather than their preferred gender identity.

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