Louisiana has become the latest state to ban transgender girls from participating in sports in public schools after the state’s Democratic governor declined to veto it, arguing that such an attempt would be futile against the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.
“I’ve allowed that bill to become law without my signature, not because I thought the bill was good,” Edwards said at a press conference Monday. “I hope we can all get to a point soon where we realize that these young people are doing the very best that they can to survive. I just think that we can be better than that bill.”
In Louisiana, any bill passed by the state’s legislature becomes law if the governor doesn’t take action on it within the constitutionally prescribed time period.
The bill had more than two-thirds majority support in both chambers of the state legislature, which would be enough for a veto override. But that’s assuming lawmakers don’t change their initial vote during an override attempt, which happens. Edwards was narrowly able to veto last year’s bill because a few members of the House changed their initial votes of support for the bill, The Advocate reported.
The legislation adds Louisiana to a list of 18 other states that have passed similar legislation over supposed concerns that transgender athletes could have an unfair physical advantage.
Edwards called that fear made-up and purposefully harmful to members of the LGBTQ community.
“In the year since that bill was first put on my desk, there still hasn’t been a single instance in Louisiana of a trans girl participating in sports,” Edwards countered while addressing the media Monday.
He said the bill is designed to “send a strong message to at least some of these young people that they shouldn’t be who they think they are, who they believe they are, who they know they are. And I find that very distressing. I do believe that we can be better than that. And we shouldn’t pretend that there’s unfairness when there’s not. It’s not happening in Louisiana.”
Republican state Sen. Beth Mizell, who sponsored the legislation both years, expressed joy at the bill’s passage, posting on Facebook: “Hallelujah!”
“I’m really pleased that we finally got it over the finish line,” she told The Advocate.
The Human Rights Campaign and The Trevor Project, two organizations that support LGBTQ rights, condemned Edwards’ inaction in statements Tuesday.
“Governor Edwards’ decision betrays his LGBTQ+ constituents and fails the transgender youth who were counting on his leadership,” HRC state legislative director and senior counsel Cathryn Oakley said in a statement. “The radical politicians that engineered this bill are targeting kids who just want to play sports for the same reason all students do ― to learn the values of teamwork, to face healthy competition, and to have fun. These children were failed by their leaders.”