On Monday, February 1st, a group of Senators in the Georgia Legislature introduced SB 435, a bill that denies the existence of trans and gender expansive students in Georgia schools and actively excludes them from full participation in school athletics.
If passed, SB 435 would require K-12 schools to discriminate against trans and gender expansive student athletes. Hyperbolic and unsupported claims of unfair competition are no justification for systematically excluding children as young as 5 years old from participation in sports. This bill serves no legitimate purpose and is yet another thinly veiled attempt to advance a bigoted, transphobic agenda.
Trans and gender expansive students experience significantly higher rates of depression and anxiety than their cisgender peers. However, when their families and communities accept and reflect back their names, pronouns, and identities, these students have better mental health outcomes across all measures. Requiring schools to discriminate against their trans and gender expansive students will make it impossible for educators to create environments that foster community acceptance and support. We need legislation that will protect the mental wellbeing of all students, not a bill that will exacerbate existing disparities.
Trans and gender expansive folks, even when they are young, know themselves. They deserve space to explore their identity and self expression without having to sacrifice opportunities to participate on teams that affirm and respect who they are. Trans and gender expansive children and young adults exist and have always existed, and they are valuable members of our communities. We demand that the Georgia Legislature treat them as such.