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Proposed legislation seeks to 'protect women in sports' passes in the state's House Education Committee

In a 15-9 vote, the House Education Committee passed the "Fairness in Women's Sports Act." The bill now heads to the full house for consideration.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The "Fairness in Women's Sports," or the "Protect Women's Sports Act," has passed in the House Education Committee in a 15-9 vote. 

Committee members, as well as the five Republican sponsors of the bill (Representative Barbara Gleim, Rep. Martina A. White, Rep. Dawn W. Keefer, Rep. Valerie S. Gaydos, Rep. Stephanie Borowicz), were present to put forth opinions on the bill.

State Representative Barb Gleim of Cumberland County stated the matter all comes down to science explaining biological males and females are different and that the two cannot be replaced by surgery or changes in hormones. 

"They have larger hearts, greater lung capacity, and more muscle mass than females," she said. "For example, even after two full years of testosterone suppression males still, run 12% faster than women."

State Representative Martina White of Philadelphia County pointed out she has played sports on both the high school and collegiate levels of sports. White pointed out this year will be the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, back in June of 1972.

"Title IX afforded me the life lessons of teamwork, leadership, accountability, determination and instilled in me the spirit to never give up," said White. "We will continue to protect what so many women fought to ensure that you can compete on a level playing field and fulfill your full potential, not only as an athlete but as a woman with a bright future."

White went on to speak on the challenges biological women may face when going up against biological males. She explained there is more loss than just opportunity: there is a loss of friendships, life lessons that stem from being a part of a team, and athletic scholarships.

Lawmakers on the other side of the aisle say there is more work that needs to be done. Democratic chairman of the committee, State Representative Mark Longietti of Mercer County, put it bluntly: legislators should stay in their lane.

"Eligibility standards are something that the legislature lacks expertise in," he said. "We have not been engaged in that space, and we do not have a well-thought-out and established process. We are a political body. We would do ourselves well and stay in our lane."

The Democratic chairman continued by adding stepping out of one's lane can lead to doing things that can cause more harm than good – which is dangerous when it impacts the actions of children and young adults in their nurturing years.

A hearing on the proposed legislation was held in August 2021, to which the PA House Democrats LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus responded. Members of the caucus stated Republicans are "advocating for open discrimination of LGBTQ+ youth" and accuse the bill of being a "solution in search of a problem."

“There are real issues with gender parity in sports when it comes to funding, resources, pay equity, and more," said caucus member and Education Committee member state Rep. Mary Isaacson (D-Philadelphia). "Promoting baseless fears about trans athletes does nothing to address those real problems. Instead, it jeopardizes athletes’ mental health due to increased scrutiny and open discrimination.”

Shortly after Tuesday's vote by the House Education Committee, the caucus put out another statement calling the move "unconscionable," and an "inflammatory move meant to spark a culture war."

The bill now awaits a vote from the full house.

Governor Tom Wolf has said he would veto the bill.

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