HELENA – The Montana Legislature may consider changes to a measure that would ban transgender athletes from participating in school and college sports according to the gender with which they identify.
The House on Monday rejected an amendment that would have voided the legislation if the federal government withholds education funding because of the law. But the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. John Fuller, said he supports a change that would require the state to carry out a full appeals process before voiding the legislation if federal officials withhold money.
The bill heads next to a conference committee, where members of the House and Senate will discuss the proposed amendment.
The push for the change stems from President Joe Biden’s executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Supporters of the amendment say that without a change, Montana could lose millions in education funding if it is found to violate the federal policy.
Similar bans have been introduced in more than 20 states this year. Republican governors in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi signed them into law this month — without nullification clauses like the one being considered in Montana. A federal court blocked a similar law in Idaho last year.
Supporters of the measure assert that transgender girls have an advantage when playing on girls’ sports teams. Opponents say the bills hurt transgender athletes’ physical and emotional well-being as well as states’ economies.
Also Monday, the Montana House voted 54-46 in favor of a bill requiring a person to have gender reassignment surgery before changing the sex on their birth certificate.
Supporters of that measure say birth certificates contain vital statistics and should be based on the facts at the time of birth, while opponents argue that it constitutes an attack on an already marginalized group.
That bill heads next to the desk of Gov. Greg Gianforte. The governor has not commented on whether he would sign either of the measures.
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