In March of 2022, Governor Spencer Cox vetoed the transgender sports ban that would no longer allow transgender youth to play sports with their transitioned sex. This bill is called House Bill 11 or for short, HB-11. Cox’s veto was taken to the Republican-controlled legislature and was ultimately overturned in a 51-18 vote. Soon after, the Senate voted 21-8 to confirm the override. Media in Utah erupted over this decision, showing both approval and extreme disapproval. This House bill is so controversial in the media that the NBA may move the NBA All Star game that is set to come to Salt Lake City in 2023. In an article on the bill, a New York Times columnist explains that Spencer Cox believes that the override of his veto “would place the lives of transgender children at risk”, stating that “the bill had not been sufficiently discussed.” While the override seems like an attack on transgender youth, the bill was made with the intent of defending cisgender youth athletes and their ability to succeed in their sports and go onto the next level. In this article, I will explain House Bill 11 and how House Bill 11 will affect both transgender and cisgender athletes, then will later tie the bill back to our school by gathering student opinions. 

House Bill 11 is a bill that was introduced with the intent to maintain a level playing field in sports during the rise of gender non-binary and transgender identification. The bill would ensure that transgender athletes can’t compete with their transitioned gender. After experiencing transgender swimmer Lia Thomas win the Division I national championship in March of 2022, many believe that the transgender sports ban is necessary. However, this is the highest level of college swimming, and House Bill 11 would remove transgender athletes from competing in their transitioned gender no matter the sport, no matter the level of competition. Making such a broad bill could make transgender people feel targeted and excluded from extracurriculars, which could domino into numerous different mental health issues. In a Deseret News article, House Bill 11 is said to “score political points without consideration for the consequences to transgender students, or to the costs of waging an expensive taxpayer-funded lawsuit,” and a Salt Lake Tribune article states that “Even LGBT young people who have absolutely no desire to run, dribble, pass, kick or swim cannot help but hear and feel how people like them are so actively shunned by the powers that be in politics, culture and education.” House Bill 11, no matter the intent, targets the mental health of our transgender youth.

With the recency of this bill, many Rowland Hall students have very strong opinions on the topic. When I asked senior Phillip Locke about his opinion on the topic, he stated that “HB-11 is a backwards step in transgender rights that could pave the way for further transphobic legislation” and that excluding transgender youth from sports could “cause great emotional pain.” If it’s not obvious enough already that HB-11 unreasonably targets transgender youth, a Salt Lake Tribune article by Kim Bojorquez explains that there are only four transgender athletes competing in their transitioned sex, and only one is competing against females. This shows how little effect the bill will have on actual sports, at the cost of threatening the mental health of our entire transgender youth. After receiving Phil’s student opinion, I asked another senior, Charlie Lanchbury. He told me that the bill made sense because of “basic biology and hormones'” and that “it’s unfair for a man to compete against women in a lot of sports.” I then presented him with the data on the number of transgender youth in school sports, and his opinion flipped. He told me that “It would be a reasonable bill if we had hundreds of transgender athletes competing against the gender they weren’t born, but having only four transgender athletes, this bill seems pretty unnecessary. The state is causing an outbreak over four high schoolers.” 

House Bill 11 is very controversial and will go down as one of Utah’s most opposed bills in recent history, and this comes as no surprise. The state is risking lawsuits and the mental health of their teenagers in order to pursue an extreme socially conservative or religion-based agenda. Though stories like Penn State swimmer Lia Thomas winning the college national championship have become more common in the media, transgender athletes haven’t impacted the fairness of competition enough for an extreme bill like House Bill 11 to be justified. Imposing on transgender athletes’ ability to play is targeting and threatens the reputation of the Utah legislature. It is clear that it is not the nearly 68,000 high school athletes in Utah who support this bill but instead 65-year old men who aren’t able to run.

Attack on the youth: A critique of House Bill 11
Zach Schwab

In March of 2022, Governor Spencer Cox vetoed the transgender sports ban that would no longer allow transgender youth to play sports with their transitioned sex. This bill is called House Bill 11 or for short, HB-11. Cox’s veto was taken to the Republican-controlled legislature and was ultimately overturned in a 51-18 vote. Soon after, the Senate voted 21-8 to confirm the override. Media in Utah erupted over this decision, showing both approval and extreme disapproval. This House bill is so controversial in the media that the NBA may move the NBA All Star game that is set to come to Salt Lake City in 2023. In an article on the bill, a New York Times columnist explains that Spencer Cox believes that the override of his veto “would place the lives of transgender children at risk”, stating that “the bill had not been sufficiently discussed.” While the override seems like an attack on transgender youth, the bill was made with the intent of defending cisgender youth athletes and their ability to succeed in their sports and go onto the next level. In this article, I will explain House Bill 11 and how House Bill 11 will affect both transgender and cisgender athletes, then will later tie the bill back to our school by gathering student opinions. 

House Bill 11 is a bill that was introduced with the intent to maintain a level playing field in sports during the rise of gender non-binary and transgender identification. The bill would ensure that transgender athletes can’t compete with their transitioned gender. After experiencing transgender swimmer Lia Thomas win the Division I national championship in March of 2022, many believe that the transgender sports ban is necessary. However, this is the highest level of college swimming, and House Bill 11 would remove transgender athletes from competing in their transitioned gender no matter the sport, no matter the level of competition. Making such a broad bill could make transgender people feel targeted and excluded from extracurriculars, which could domino into numerous different mental health issues. In a Deseret News article, House Bill 11 is said to “score political points without consideration for the consequences to transgender students, or to the costs of waging an expensive taxpayer-funded lawsuit,” and a Salt Lake Tribune article states that “Even LGBT young people who have absolutely no desire to run, dribble, pass, kick or swim cannot help but hear and feel how people like them are so actively shunned by the powers that be in politics, culture and education.” House Bill 11, no matter the intent, targets the mental health of our transgender youth.

With the recency of this bill, many Rowland Hall students have very strong opinions on the topic. When I asked senior Phillip Locke about his opinion on the topic, he stated that “HB-11 is a backwards step in transgender rights that could pave the way for further transphobic legislation” and that excluding transgender youth from sports could “cause great emotional pain.” If it’s not obvious enough already that HB-11 unreasonably targets transgender youth, a Salt Lake Tribune article by Kim Bojorquez explains that there are only four transgender athletes competing in their transitioned sex, and only one is competing against females. This shows how little effect the bill will have on actual sports, at the cost of threatening the mental health of our entire transgender youth. After receiving Phil’s student opinion, I asked another senior, Charlie Lanchbury. He told me that the bill made sense because of “basic biology and hormones'” and that “it’s unfair for a man to compete against women in a lot of sports.” I then presented him with the data on the number of transgender youth in school sports, and his opinion flipped. He told me that “It would be a reasonable bill if we had hundreds of transgender athletes competing against the gender they weren’t born, but having only four transgender athletes, this bill seems pretty unnecessary. The state is causing an outbreak over four high schoolers.” 

House Bill 11 is very controversial and will go down as one of Utah’s most opposed bills in recent history, and this comes as no surprise. The state is risking lawsuits and the mental health of their teenagers in order to pursue an extreme socially conservative or religion-based agenda. Though stories like Penn State swimmer Lia Thomas winning the college national championship have become more common in the media, transgender athletes haven’t impacted the fairness of competition enough for an extreme bill like House Bill 11 to be justified. Imposing on transgender athletes’ ability to play is targeting and threatens the reputation of the Utah legislature. It is clear that it is not the nearly 68,000 high school athletes in Utah who support this bill but instead 65-year old men who aren’t able to run.

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