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UPDATE: Ind. GOP says they’ll move to override Holcomb veto on anti-trans sports bill

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb
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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb

Indiana House Republicans say they’ll seek to override Gov. Holcomb’s veto yesterday on a bill that would prevent transgender women and girls from playing on K-12 sports teams. 

House Bill 1041, which passed the Senate March 1 in a 66-30 vote, would prevent students designated male “based on a student’s biological sex at birth in accordance with the student’s genetrics and reproductive biology” from participating in a girl’s or women’s team. The measure includes a grievance process for parents. 

Holcomb wrote in his Monday veto that the bill leaves “too many unanswered questions” and said that if the goal of the bill is “to provide clarity and one consistent state policy regarding the fairness in K-12 sports, for me this current bill falls short.” 

Holcomb said that the broad nature of the grievance process makes it unclear how the law would be fairly and consistently applied across the state. 

He also noted litigation that has been filed or threatened in other states that have passed similar bills. 

Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Michelle Davis of Whiteland, along with Indiana Republican House Speaker Todd Huston of Fischers issued a statement Tuesday, saying they intend to override the veto when legislators convene in May. 

"The goal of House Enrolled Act 1041 is to maintain fair competition and integrity in girls' sports in Indiana,” Davis wrote in the statement. “Hoosier female athletes deserve the opportunity to win and lose on a level playing field.”

The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ+ advocacy group, praised Holcomb’s veto in a statement Monday. 

“Governor Holcomb did the right thing tonight in vetoing a bill that would only cause problems, not solve them, by targeting Indiana’s transgender children and making them the targets of exclusion and discrimination in their own schools,” said Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley. 

The veto can be overridden by a simple majority in both houses. Oakley urged lawmakers to uphold the veto. 

“All Indiana children deserve better than being treated as political pawns,” Oakley said. “What they deserve is to be able to have fun with their friends, exercise, and learn how to be part of a team. This veto is a strong statement of Indiana’s values and the legislature must allow it to stand.”

In a statement, Katie Blair, Indiana ACLU of Indiana Advocacy and Public Policy director, called the veto a victory, one that “belongs to the trans youth of Indiana, who deserve to live as their authentic selves and to play the sports they love, free from discrimination.”

Kentucky also has legislation moving through the statehouse that would ban transgender girls from playing sports with their peers. 

Senate Bill 83, which would require students in grades 6-12 to be listed as female on their birth certificates to play in girls’ sports, passed the House 70-23 last week. 

House Bill 23, which would apply to students on college sports teams as well as middle and high school students, was scheduled for a vote in mid-March but returned to a committee where it has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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