MONTGOMERY — Legislation barring college athletes from participating in sports that do not correspond to their biological sex has cleared the first hurdle in the Alabama Legislature.

Alabama law prohibits individuals from participating in sports teams that do not correspond to their biological sex in all public K-12 schools. However, university athletics are governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

House Bill 261 (HB261), sponsored by State Rep. Susan DuBose (R-Hoover), would require all public two-year and four-year institutions of higher education to prohibit biological males from participating in athletic teams or sports designated for females and vice versa.

On Wednesday, the House Education Policy Committee held a public hearing, offering opponents and supporters a chance to provide input on the bill.

Five people spoke in favor of the bill, and one spoke against it.

DuBose pointed to 16 other states that have introduced similar legislation without pushback from the NCAA or Universities.

"Forcing women to compete against biological men would reverse decades of progress that women have made for equal opportunities in athletics," she said. "Having separate teams for men and women is the time-tested way to ensure that women have the opportunity to showcase their talents and be champions... Science tells us that similarly gifted and trained males are bigger, faster and stronger than females. They have larger hearts and lungs, denser bones and stronger muscles. No amount of hormone therapy can undo all those advantages."

House Majority Leader Scott Stadthagen (R-Hartselle), who passed a similar bill last year for K-12 students, also spoke in favor of the bill.

"It's hard for me to understand the argument that you can tell me that a man can compete against a woman in a fair situation, and you can't," Stadthagen said. "It's physically impossible for a man to compete against a woman and for it to be a level playing field.

Other representatives from the Alliance Defending Freedom and Eagle Forum of Alabama also spoke in favor.

One member of the public, Jeff Walker, spoke against the bill, accusing lawmakers of trying to "keep transgender youth isolated and secluded." He further claimed the bill was gratuitous since there was no example of a collegiate transgender athlete in the state.

Jasmine Stawarski, a University of South Alabama student, spoke in favor of the legislation, citing her sports experience and how competing against biological males would have negatively impacted her sports experience.

"I remember being so nervous to play certain schools because a girl they had was going to be going D-1 soon," Stawarski said. "If I was nervous playing against biological females, I cannot imagine competing against someone who is a biological male. I would be terrified."

The committee offered no questions to DuBose, and, in a rare showing, the committee voted on the issue on the same day as the public hearing. The bill passed unanimously and will now go to the House floor for deliberation.

The same day DuBose filed HB261, the U.S. Department of Education announced it was considering changing Title IX regulations to force schools to allow trans-student-athletes to compete according to their gender identity. 

"This is a huge overreach of authority," DuBose told 1819 News. "Unelected bureaucrats [are] once again trying to force their agenda on the states. In Alabama, we won't stand for it. This will set women's rights back decades. In 1972, Title IX increased educational opportunities for women. An amazing consequence of the bill is to increase opportunity and athletics for females. In 1972, only 17% of collegiate athletes were female. Now almost half — 44% — are women."

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