Nebraska Bill Restricting Trans Student-Athlete Participation Fails to Advance

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A Nebraska bill aimed at restricting transgender student-athlete participation in sports failed to advance Friday. 

According The Hill, legislative Bill 575, known as the Sports and Spaces Act, sought to prevent transgender students from using public school restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity and to require schools to designate participation in athletics based on sex assigned at birth. The bill would have also redefined sex in a way that LGBTQ advocates warned would exclude transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

Conservatives in Nebraska's legislature failed to secure the votes to overcome a filibuster on the bill. 

Thirty-one state senators voted to end debate and vote on the bill, falling just two votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to end a filibuster, with two conservative senators abstaining from voting. 

“I am disappointed that two of our Senators decided to not vote on the bill. I would have liked the opportunity to make adjustments,” state Sen. Kathleen Kauth, a conservative and the bill’s primary sponsor, told The Hill in an email after the vote.

Senators on both side of the aisle raised questions about how the bill would be enforced. 

“This bill is incomplete, and it needs to be reworked,” said state Sen. Tom Brandt, who declined to vote. “My fear is it’ll affect all female athletes.”

Kauth’s proposal defines “male” and “female” based on an individual’s chromosomes.

“We all know what this is about, no matter how we dress it up,” said state Sen. Lynne Walz. “It’s discrimination. It’s a blanket ban on trans kids participating in extracurricular activities.”

Kauth, who last year spearheaded a successful effort to restrict access to gender-affirming health care for transgender minors in Nebraska, told The Hill she is undeterred by Friday’s vote and plans to introduce the bill again in 2025.

“I will be bringing it back next session,” she said.

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