Micah Clark: The Legislature was right to pass girls’ sports bill

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Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed a bill that banned transgender athletes from playing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity. Should the Legislature overturn the veto?

On March 21, Gov. Eric Holcomb shocked many legislators and Hoosiers with his unexpected veto of House Bill 1041, the Fairness in Girls’ Sports Act. HB 1041 had easily passed both chambers with 64% support in the Senate and 66% support in the House. These votes are consistent with a Gallup Poll (released in May 2021) finding that by 2-to-1, Americans believe that biological males should not be allowed to participate in competitive girls’ sports.

According to ABC News, 37 state legislatures have bills filed to protect the competitive balance of girls’ sports from the disadvantages male participation would create.

Fourteen states now have laws or rules like House Bill 1041. Twelve state legislatures passed and enacted such bills. South Dakota did so by executive order. Two other states—Indiana and Utah—have had governors veto bills approved by their legislatures. And already, Utah’s Legislature easily overrode its governor, gaining four votes in the override.

Indiana’s effort to protect girls’ school sports from athletes who are biological males but desire to be viewed as females is not unique. What is unique is Gov. Holcomb’s veto. The governor is concerned about legal challenges to HB 1041. Were Indiana an outlier and the only state to consider such a bill, his argument might have merit. However, blocking a common legislative effort because of fear of a lawsuit is troublesome. This sends a signal to every special interest group that if you can’t stop a popular bill, threaten a lawsuit.

It is worth noting that Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has stated his strong support for this legislation and his intent to defend it in court, if necessary.

If the governor had legitimate and specific concerns about HB 1041 at any point during the legislative process, he could have asked the leadership to address those concerns. His party has a supermajority that controlled the bill each step of the way. One can only assume he never raised legitimate points.

The Legislature will return on May 24 for a technical corrections day. Lawmakers can use it to override the governor’s veto with a simple majority vote. They need to do this to protect competition for Hoosier female athletes, many of whom could receive college scholarships based upon their performance.

There is more than just fairness here. This legislation is morally right. If Indiana cannot say that a court, a track or a pool are gender-specific, then there is no logical basis for saying that a school locker room or shower are gender-specific.

Such is the case with Lia Thomas, the anatomically male University of Pennsylvania swimmer who is breaking girls’ sports records after competing for years as a middle-ranked male. He showers with the girls’ swim team. This is not what Hoosier parents want happening in Indiana. The Legislature shouldn’t wait to act until girls are placed in a position where their privacy and safety are at risk. Gov. Holcomb’s veto must be reversed.•


Clark is the executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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3 thoughts on “Micah Clark: The Legislature was right to pass girls’ sports bill

  1. Would love to read the essay by Katie Blair, but clicking on it brings me the Micah Clark essay. And clicking on Micah’s article also brings me the Micah article. Hope you can fix the link.