Bills filed in both NC chambers to bar biological males from women’s sports 

The North Carolina General Assembly is featured in this file photo.

RALEIGH — Bills prohibiting biological males from competing in women’s sports have been filed in both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly. 

The bill, as written, would prevent biological males, including those who claim to be transgender females, from playing on women’s high school sports teams. 

House Bill 574 and Senate Bill 631 are identical and titled the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” 

House Bill 574’s primary sponsors include Reps. Jennifer Balkcom (R-Henderson), Karl Gillespie (R-Macon), Erin Paré (R-Wake) and Kristin Baker (R-Cabarrus). The bill already has 37 of the 72 House Republicans as co-sponsors in addition to the primary sponsors. 

All 30 Senate Republicans have signed on in support of the measure. 

Both bills would amend state statutes by adding five new sub-subdivisions that include sports teams “shall be expressly designated by the biological sex of the team participants.” The team designations include males, men or boys; females, women or girls; and coed or mixed.  

“Athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex,” the bills state. Similarly, male sports teams will not be open to girls unless a comparable female sport is not available. 

As currently written, the bill wouldn’t allow girls to play on boys’ contact sports teams such as football, however, Sen. Vickie Sawyer (R-Iredell) has indicated that wasn’t the intention of the bill and the language will be amended. 

Both bills say a student’s sex “shall be recognized based solely on the student’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”  

The bills both allow for legal action.  

Those who have been harmed or suffered due to the opposite sex being allowed to play on a team prohibited by the bill or those who have been retaliated against for reporting such a situation can seek injunctive relief and damages in court. 

If passed and enacted, the State Board of Education will be in charge of monitoring middle and high schools for compliance with the law, and if Board finds a school in violation, the school in violation will be reported to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee. 

A similar bill was proposed in the 2021-22 session.  

House Bill 358, the Save Women’s Sports Act, was created “to protect the opportunities for women and girls in athletics by ensuring women are not forced to compete against men playing on women’s sports teams.” The bill passed the first reading in the House but never emerged from the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House. 

Legislative members from both chambers held a press conference about the bill on April 6.  

Former UNC Chapel Hill women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell spoke at the press event and said she backs the bill and said it is needed to provide “fair and safe” competition. 

Sherry Norris, a retired Chapel Hill High basketball and volleyball coach who also attended the press event said the state needs legislation to bar biological men from competing in women’s sports, citing the obvious strength advantages of males. 

Both Sawyer and Norris also referenced an incident involving a female Cherokee County volleyball player who suffered a concussion when an athlete — a biological male identifying as a female — spiked the ball into the player’s head, causing injuries.  

Paré took to Twitter in support of the bill, tweeting “As a mom of two teenagers, one girl and one boy, who both play competitive sports, I am proud to be a primary sponsor of HB 574 ‘Fairness in Women’s Sports’ which was filed today. 

“Allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports erases nearly 50 years of advances for women. It is neither fair nor safe for women to be forced to compete against biological males. The vast majority of North Carolinians agree, and I look forward to seeing this bill become law.” 

Paré’s tweet also cited the Cherokee County High Schooler who was “severely injured when a transgender woman (biological male) spiked a ball in her face, causing her severe neck and head injuries, vision problems and long-term consequences from a concussion.” 

In response to the sports bills, as well as bills filed blocking hormone suppression therapy and sex-change surgeries for minors, LGBTQ activist group Equality NC began circulating a letter template for their supporters to use to mass email legislators that calls for them to “reject the #SlateofHate.” 

The bills were applauded by Tami Fitzgerald, the director of the conservative NC Values Coalition. 

“This bill would protect females from being forced to play against biological males on sports teams, which can leave females with injuries and cheats them out of equal opportunities,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Girls deserve a level playing field. Allowing males to compete in girls’ sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women. We can’t allow women to be benched from equal opportunities in sports.” 

Should the bills become law, it is more than likely a legal challenge will arise as was the case in West Virginia. The West Virginia case involves a 12-year-old biological male identifying as a transgender female who sued over the law in order to continue participating on a middle school track team.  

A request to fully enact a West Virginia law with the same goals and name as the North Carolina bills was turned down in an unsigned U.S. Supreme Court order issued on April 6.  

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented, writing that the issue was an important one that would likely come before the court soon with regard to Title IX and that, “Among other things, enforcement of the law at issue should not be forbidden by the federal courts without any explanation.” 

The same day the Supreme Court issued its order denying to hear the West Virginia case, the Biden administration’s Department of Education (DOE) also issued notice of a proposed rule to “clarify” Title IX discrimination language.  

The proposed rule would punish states by withholding federal funding from schools or states that do not allow males to participate in female sports teams based on one’s “gender identity.”  

In May 2021, Biden’s DOE revived the Obama-era Title IX guidance requiring schools to allow students access to bathrooms and locker rooms based on a student’s self-declared gender identity and threatened to block federal funding to states for noncompliance.  

Within a few months of the guidance announcement, nearly two dozen states sued. A year later, in August 2022, a federal judge in Tennessee issued an injunction blocking the Biden administration from enforcing its guidance under Title IX. 

About A.P. Dillon 971 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_