MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House State Government Committee on Thursday morning considered the “Gender is Real Legislative” (GIRL) Act, failing to advance the legislation because no motion was made to do so.
The bill, HB 35, is sponsored by State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile). Pringle is the chairman of the State Government Committee.
HB 35 would require Alabama public schools to make sure every entrant in an athletic competition is sorted by the gender on their birth certificate. The bill also forbids any state, county or municipal government/agency from providing a facility to a single-gender competition that allows a transgender entrant.
The GIRL Act exempts any event that is specifically designed to have both boys and girls as competitors.
“Gender is real. There are biological differences between boys and girls that influence athletic performance. The GIRL Bill seeks to support female student-athletes, so that they may compete against each other and not have to compete against male students with an unfair advantage,” Pringle has stated. “Liberal Democrats are always trying to accuse us of refusing science, but gender is a real biological truth. It truly defies logic that anyone would deny science and want male students to compete in female sports.”
The committee on Thursday held a public hearing on HB 35 before considering the legislation. Several opponents to the bill spoke, arguing that there is no scientific basis to say biological males have a competitive advantage in athletics over biological females.
The first opponent of the day used herself as an example, saying she played volleyball as a child against boys and was better than the boys but not as good as other girls.
A later opponent claimed that the bill could not work in practice, as there are not two genders to choose from. “Gender is a spectrum,” she explained.
The penultimate speaker asserted HB 35 is “a disgrace to our Pledge of Allegiance.” This opponent also called the bill “racist.”
You can watch a livestream of the public hearing here.
In what was the most bizarre part of the committee meeting, State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) said, “My favorite player is a transgender.”
“I don’t recall his name,” he added, asserting “about 20 football players are transgender” that he knows of.
Rogers during the meeting advised that the nameless individual he was referring to is a football player for the “North Carolina Panthers” and is about to be cut because he is transgender. This came after Rogers arrived at the meeting halfway through the public hearing. He told Yellowhammer News that people had been calling him to go “kill the bill,” so he drove “100-miles-per-hour” to arrive in time to attempt to do so after realizing it was on the agenda.
Rogers made a motion to carry the bill over after his remarks during the meeting. That motion failed on party lines.
Yellowhammer News after the meeting asked Rogers what football player he was talking about. Rogers commented that he was referring to former Auburn University star quarterback Cam Newton, whose name he had just remembered. Yellowhammer asked Rogers if he believed Newton to be transgender. Rogers responded that he misspoke, and that he believes Newton is “gay.” Rogers added that there is nothing wrong with that and that there are many football players who are gay. To be clear, there has been no credible reporting that Newton is transgender or gay. Newton and his longtime girlfriend in recent months celebrated the arrival of their newborn baby. It should further be noted that the GIRL Act has nothing to do with gay or lesbian athletes.
After the meeting, Pringle also told reporters that “confusion” caused a motion not to be made to advance the legislation. He stated that the committee vice chair, State Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville), had to step out to attend another meeting, which led to State Rep. Connie Rowe (R-Jasper) presiding over the meeting as Pringle handled his own bill. Rowe had previously agreed to make the motion to advance the bill at the end of consideration but could not do so as acting chair.
HB 35 can simply be brought back up by the committee, and Pringle expressed that he expects this to happen during a later meeting.
Pringle concluded that he is very optimistic the bill will move forward and pass the legislature in the coming weeks.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn