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Louisiana Governor Blocks Bipartisan Effort to Enact Protections for Female Athletes

By Natalie Allen posted on:
June 24, 2021

On Tuesday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act despite overwhelming majorities and bipartisan support in both chambers to pass the bill.

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act protects opportunities for female athletes by ensuring they are not forced to face off against males competing in women’s sports. Opponents of these bills attempt to paint them as a political ploy used by Republicans.

Yet, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act received strong bipartisan support in both chambers of the Louisiana legislature throughout its journey to Gov. John Bel Edwards’s desk. Ten Democrats in the House and four in the Senate voted in favor of final passage of the bill. In fact, only about half of the Democratic representatives in both chambers actually voted against the bill. Half.

That doesn’t sound like partisan games to me; it sounds like an understanding across the political spectrum that women deserve fairness in athletic competition.

And this bipartisanship isn’t limited to Louisiana. Last year, former Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced a federal version of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act in Congress, and earlier this year, a Democratic state legislator in Hawaii sponsored a similar bill in his state.

There is a reason such legislation continues to receive broad support: a majority of Americans agree that it is unfair to allow men to compete in women’s sports regardless of how they identify. A 2020 poll found that 67% of likely voters do not think boys and men should be allowed to compete in girls’ and women’s athletics. Less than 20% of respondents supported men competing in women’s sports.

And just last month, a Gallup poll found that 62% of U.S. adults believe that athletes should compete on sports teams according to their biological sex—including 41% of Democrats surveyed.

While radical activists assert that it’s perfectly fair to allow men who identify as women to compete against women in sports, everyday Americans understand the obvious: women’s athletics should be reserved for women.

Both common sense and science tell us that males are stronger and faster than comparably fit and trained females, so when they compete against women, they dominate. The bottom line is that there are meaningful differences between men and women, and those differences take on particular significance in athletics—a significance that a large majority of Americans acknowledge.

Policies that allow male athletes to compete against women are harmful to women. Protecting women from discrimination should never be a partisan issue.

It is encouraging to see Louisiana’s legislators from both sides of the aisle recognize this. We are hopeful they will take one more stand to preserve fairness in women’s sports by overriding Gov. Edwards’s misguided veto.

Natalie Allen

Natalie Allen

Legislative Communications & Initiatives Coordinator

Natalie worked as a lobbyist at the Family Foundation of Virginia and a grassroots associate at Heritage Action for America before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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