What People Are *Actually* Saying About H.R. 734, the “Politics Over Participation Act”
WASHINGTON – Today, the House of Representatives will consider extreme Republican legislation that bans transgender women and girls in school sports and makes school sports less fair and less safe for all students. Athletes, advocates, and experts agree that politicians in Washington should be addressing the most pressing issues facing students and parents—not targeting transgender student athletes and endangering women and girls in school athletics. Here is what they are saying about Republicans’ extreme H.R. 734, the “Politics Over Participation Act”:
The White House: “For students nationwide, participating in sports and being part of a team is an important part of growing up, staying engaged in school, and learning leadership and life skills. H.R. 734 would deny access to sports for many families by establishing an absolute ban on transgender students—even those as young as elementary schoolers—playing on a team consistent with their gender identity. Schools, coaches, and athletic associations around the country are already working with families to develop participation rules that are fair and that take into account particular sports, grade levels, and levels of competition. As a national ban that does not account for competitiveness or grade level, H.R. 734 targets people for who they are and therefore is discriminatory. Politicians should not dictate a one-size-fits-all requirement that forces coaches to remove kids from their teams. At a time when transgender youth already face a nationwide mental health crisis, with half of transgender youth in a recent survey saying they have seriously considered suicide, a national law that further stigmatizes these children is completely unnecessary, hurts families and students, and would only put students at greater risk. Discrimination has no place in our nation’s schools or on our playing fields.
“Instead of addressing the pressing issues that families and students face today—such as raising teacher pay, keeping guns out of schools, addressing the mental health crisis our youth face, and helping students learn and recover academically from unprecedented disruptions—Congressional Republicans have instead chosen to prioritize policies that discriminate against children.
“If the President were presented with H.R. 734, he would veto it.”
United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council Chair Mark Ludwig: “Everyone should have equal access to and opportunity in sport. The AAC opposes any attempt to marginalize, limit or deny human rights and is on the side of inclusion of all participants in youth sports. Banning transgender and nonbinary kids from sports ostracizes them from a fundamental part of growing up and all the benefits sports provide to youth.
“The blanket exclusion that H.R. 734 would mandate for every age, every sport, and every level of competition is contrary to Title IX’s mandate of equal access to educational opportunities.”
Athlete Ally (Olympic & Paralympic Athletes): “Sport is a tremendous outlet for physical and mental health, teaches valuable lessons on teamwork and discipline, and has brought us lifelong community. Every single child should have access to the lifesaving power of sports.
“Right now, transgender and intersex human rights are under attack, with politicians in Washington D.C. pushing forward H.R. 734, the so-called “Protection of Girls and Women in Sports Act”, which would stipulate that Title IX compliance requires banning transgender and intersex girls and women from participating in sports. If this bill passes, transgender and intersex girls and women throughout the country will be forced to sit on the sidelines, away from their peers and their communities. Furthermore, the policing of who can and cannot play school sports will very likely lead to the policing of the bodies of all girls, including cisgender girls.”
National Women’s Law Center, Women’s Sports Foundation, and 98 national and state women’s and girls’ rights organizations: “H.R. 734’s real purpose is not to expand opportunities for women and girls, but to deny transgender, intersex, and nonbinary students of their right under Title IX to equal athletic opportunities.
“As women’s rights and gender justice organizations, we vehemently reject the dangerous legislation and rhetoric pushed by politicians seeking to marginalize transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people. Supporting the civil rights of women and girls cannot be separated from championing policies that protect the rights of transgender, intersex, and nonbinary individuals’ rights to be free from sex discrimination, including in school sports. This, at a minimum, includes voicing strong opposition to H.R. 734.”
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 187 civil and human rights organizations: “We reject H.R. 734, the so-called Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023, because it would harm women and girls and undermine civil rights for all students.
“We ask all members of Congress to strongly oppose H.R. 734 and to reject attacks on transgender, nonbinary, and intersex youth; to commit themselves to meaningfully advancing policies that support equal opportunity; and to reassure all students in the nation’s classrooms that they will have the chance to learn, grow, and thrive.”
Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson: “On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign’s more than three million members and supporters nationwide, I write to express our strong opposition to H.R. 734—the misnamed Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 which seeks to implement a discriminatory ban on transgender girls participating in girls’ sports nationwide.
“Banning transgender and intersex kids from playing sports in school would do nothing to address ongoing, well-documented threats to girls’ and women’s sports, including a lack of equal resources, pay inequality, and sexual harassment.”
The Trevor Project Director of Law & Policy Casey Pick: “We understand that this can seem like a complicated issue for people who’ve never met a transgender person. But the impact of exclusion and discrimination on our young people is clear and dire. Local schools and athletic associations have already been successfully managing programs that balance fairness with inclusion for years. We urge lawmakers to listen to the subject matter experts, and the trans athletes and families who would be impacted, before rushing to create overreaching government mandates that harm young people and help no one.”
GLSEN Chief of Staff and Deputy Executive Director for Public Policy and Research Aaron Ridings: “H.R. 734, the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, is designed specifically to attack students in the LGBTQ+ community, and opens the door for bullying and harassment. This legislation prohibits transgender students from participating in sports that align with their gender identity, robbing them of their right to participate in sports.
“Rather than working to further entrench the mental health problems faced by students, Congress should be acting to support our children in schools. American families want to enjoy time watching their children participate in their favorite sports, not incite flames of hatred and exclusion.”
PFLAG National Executive Director Brian K. Bond: “FLAG National opposes H.R. 734, the so-called Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023, and rejects its targeted attacks which not only harms transgender, nonbinary, and intersex youth and their families but also harms girlsʼ and womenʼs sports as a whole.
“When more than 20 states have or seek laws to restrict trans, nonbinary and intersex students from participating with their peers in sports, families everywhere must be able to rely on our federal government to seek fair inclusion and equal access in all areas of public education, including sports.
“Our families across the nation are relying on you to do what this bill states in name but defies in content: Protect women and girls in sports by including—not excluding— trans, nonbinary and intersex youth participation in sports.”
Advocates for Youth: “H.R. 734 is a dangerous and gross misinterpretation of the vision of Title IX, and is nothing more than an attempt to codify discrimination against transgender students. Transphobic lawmakers champion H.R. 734 as a means of achieving ‘gender equity,’ but continue to ignore the very real risk of sexual violence that students — and especially transgender students — face in their schools and athletics programs.”
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Federal Policy Director Christopher Anders & Senior Legislative Advocate Ian S. Thompson: “This discriminatory and unconstitutional legislation would make it illegal for schools receiving federal funding to allow transgender girls and women to play on sports teams for girls and women, in violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. In addition, under Title IX, all girls, including those who are transgender, should be able to participate fully and equally in athletics, in accordance with who they are. This will be the first vote in congressional history to specifically single out transgender people for discrimination. Because of the importance of this vote, the ACLU will be scoring it.
“H.R. 734 does nothing to address the real barriers facing female student athletes. Instead, it targets a small, already vulnerable group of people for further discrimination. The ACLU strongly urges all Members to vote NO on H.R. 734.”
American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and American Psychiatric Association: “On behalf of the more than 165,000 physicians and medical students our organizations represent, we write in opposition to H.R.734, the so-called ‘Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023’.
“Involvement in sports, particularly as a member of a sports team, is an integral way for youth to develop psychosocially and help form their social identity. Sports participation helps athletes develop self-esteem, correlates positively with overall mental health, and appears to have a protective effect against suicide. Forcing transgender children to play on teams according to their sex assigned at birth, rather than the gender they live in, undermines their ability to belong to their community.”
National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Executive Director Kathleen Minke, PhD, NCSP: “Schools have an obligation to support the academic achievement and well-being of all students. As such, every school must be safe, secure, equitable, and inclusive for all students, including TGD youth. H.R. 734 would do the exact opposite by fostering a hostile and discriminatory environment for students who are already at greater risk for suicide and other mental health challenges due to the continued attacks against their very existence. This is in direct conflict with Title IX and its mandate of equal access.
“This legislation does not protect women from discrimination in sports. Instead, it excludes transgender women from participation in sports. H.R. 734 is a thinly veiled attempt to further erase transgender people from public life.”
National Education Association (NEA) Director of Government Relations Marc Egan: “NEA members oppose H.R. 734 because it would exclude transgender students from participating in activities and opportunities that should be available to all students. The same groups that are intent upon banning books from school libraries and censoring history lessons are now consumed with which bathrooms students use and their choice of personal pronouns—and these groups have found common cause with some members of Congress.”
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten: “This misguided bill bans transgender kids from participating in school sports, causing harm and undermining civil rights for all students.
“Rather than focusing on ways to strengthen public schools, meet the needs of all students and families, and protect transgender students from attacks, this bill targets students and blocks them from participating in school activities alongside their peers.”
National Parents Union: “HR 734 bullies kids instead of teaching them to read. It’s time to get focused on what matters to American families.
“The National Parents Union continues to be frustrated with the lack of focus from House and Education Workforce Committee Leadership on issues that matter to American Families. Families across the country want Congress to focus on ensuring that every child is prepared for their future- not bullying kids who want to play sports among their peers.”
Center for American Progress (CAP) Director of LGBTQI+ Policy Caroline Medina: “This openly discriminatory bill will harm transgender youth, women, and girls and undermine the civil rights of all students. The effort to exclude transgender and intersex youth from participating in athletic programs in schools is part of a larger, coordinated campaign by MAGA extremists to attack and erase the identity of transgender and other LGBTQI+ kids in schools and beyond.
“Congress should overwhelmingly reject this dangerous bill and instead turn its attention to strengthening Title IX and focusing on advancing policies that ensure all students are treated with dignity and respect, so they can learn and grow in educational environments that are inclusive, are safe, and enable students to succeed.”
Third Way Senior Vice President for Social Policy, Education, & Politics Lanae Erickson: “This legislation inserts politics into a sensitive and complicated issue that should be decided by parents, schools, sports associations, and medical professionals—not Washington politicians.
“We all want sports to be fair and student athletes to be safe. This bill would do nothing to achieve that goal. Rather, it would make all female athletes less safe by requiring that young girls who want to participate in sports answer personal questions about their menstrual cycle and physical development to adults they may not know—or worse, submit to genital checks. That is horribly wrong and inappropriate.
“Questions around gender and youth sports are complicated. But this bill would let politicians make decisions for women and girls, and they have no right to do that. Our country is facing major challenges. The economy is struggling, costs are still too high, and families are working too hard to keep up. Congress should be focused on getting the country back on track—not creating political theater that would put all girls at risk.”
National Queer API Alliance (NQAPIA): “H.R.734, the so-called Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023, is not only disingenuous, from its name on down, it is dangerous in intent, precedent, and messaging. While it purports to protect women and girls and promote fairness in sports, its explicit intention is the opposite, to divide and harm women, girls, and all youth, and enshrine discrimination into federal law.
“We ask that you send a firm message that not only do trans, nonbinary, and intersex youth belong in sports and schools, but that they must be welcomed, affirmed, and treated with dignity, respect, and fairness. And that this campaign to utilize the powers of the federal government to harm its most vulnerable people, goes no further.”
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association: “Transgender youth experience disproportionately higher instances of bullying, harassment, isolation, family rejection and suicide, and exclusion from the benefits of athletic participation should not be yet another risk they face. H.R. 734 is inconsistent with NAPABA’s values of equality, community, advocacy, relationships, diversity, equity, inclusion, open-mindedness, and the health and wellbeing of our members and the Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, and the organization’s commitment to all underserved and underrepresented communities.”
Billie Jean King (Tennis champion, Womens Sports Foundation Founder): “There is no place in any sport for discrimination of any kind. I’m proud to support all transgender athletes who simply want the access and opportunity to compete in the sport they love. The global athletic community grows stronger when we welcome and champion all athletes – including LGBTQI+ athletes.”
Megan Rapinoe (Professional Soccer Player): “These bills are attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Transgender kids want the opportunity to play sports for the same reasons other kids do: to be a part of a team where they feel like they belong.
“Transgender kids deserve the same chances to enjoy sports; to gain confidence, self-respect and leadership skills; and to learn what it means to be part of a team. When we tell transgender girls that they can’t play girls’ sports — or transgender boys that they can’t play boys’ sports — they miss out on these important experiences and opportunities. And we lose the right to say we care about children. I want every transgender kid out there to know that they can live their dreams and be true to who they are. For them to realize those dreams, they need to be allowed to play.”
Coalition of 23 Women’s Rights and Gender Justice Organizations: “As experts in sex discrimination, we know firsthand that equal opportunities for transgender people are not the problem, they are part of the solution. We will continue to spend our energy combating the actual problems: stereotypes about women and girls’ interest and ability to compete, lack of equal resources for girls’ sports, pay inequality and other types of discrimination against women coaches and professional women athletes, and sexual harassment that pushes women and girls out of sports. We will only accomplish these goals by treating all people, including transgender people, with fairness and respect. That means celebrating all athletes, including transgender athletes—not shaming them and casting them out.”
Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA): “Politically charged policies and laws aimed at harming trans youth and their families are abhorrent. Banning trans kids from sports ostracizes them from a fundamental part of growing up and lifeline to feel welcome and a part of their community.”
National Coalition for Women & Girls in Education (NCWGE): “NCWGE supports the right of transgender and nonbinary students to learn in a safe, nondiscriminatory environment; to use names, pronouns, and identification documents consistent with their gender identity; to have full and equal access to sex-separated activities and facilities consistent with their gender identity, including athletics teams, bathrooms, and locker rooms; and to have their privacy protected in all education records, in accordance with Title IX, the reasoning in the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision, and President Biden’s January 20, 2021 executive order.”
Erica Sullivan (Professional Swimmer): “Should the transgender community be included and treated equally in all areas of life, including sports? Yes. Transgender athletes should not be denied equal rights when compared to cisgender athletes.
“As a woman in sports, I can tell you that I know what the real threats to women's sports are: sexual abuse and harassment, unequal pay and resources and a lack of women in leadership. Transgender girls and women are nowhere on this list. Women's sports are stronger when all women—including trans women—are protected from discrimination, and free to be their true selves.”
Naima Reddick (Professional Rugby Player): “Trans women simply aren't taking over rugby, and they have no inherent advantage. Zero trans women to date have competed in the Olympics. They aren't taking over sport, period.
“I want all athletes -- including trans women -- to be accepted and not have their existence questioned. If you want to play and put the work in, then I want you to be here.”
Meghan Duggan (Professional Hockey Player): “I have always wanted to change the world through sports. Playing hockey empowered me and gave me an amazing platform to advocate for the issues that matter the most to me, especially gender equality and LGBTQ+ inclusion… Trans athletes deserve those same rights and equal opportunities in sports. I now mentor young athletes, inspiring them to find their voices through hockey. Every child, regardless of gender identity, should have the chance to access the lifelong skills that sports teach like confidence, perseverance and leadership.”
Imani Dorsey (Professional Soccer Player): “Trans female athletes deserve the opportunity to celebrate their womanhood alongside other women in sport. As a cisgender athlete, I welcome trans females to women’s soccer. At all levels, you will be our teammates. You will broaden our worldview and change our perspectives. You will help us understand all the different ways we identify as females and how our athleticism and femininity doesn’t make us an exception, but the norm. For a long time, I was not comfortable celebrating and embracing who I am and what makes me special. Therefore, as a cisgender athlete, I can only imagine what a young trans female must feel. Women’s soccer gave me an opportunity to experience life, learn, and grow with and from young women like me. All women, including trans women, should be able to have this incredible opportunity, and be able to celebrate who they are and all they bring to the sport they love.”
Democratic Press Office, 202-226-0853
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