DES MOINES, Iowa – Dozens of people packed the Iowa Statehouse Monday to weigh in on new rules for student athletics.
House File 2309 would require public and private schools K-12 to ban transgender athletes from competing in a sport outside of the gender the individual had at birth.
The House Education Committee voted 14 to 7 in favor of the bill.
The ACLU, Iowa Safe Schools, and Planned Parenthood have all come out against the bill with similar sentiments as State Rep. Mary Mascher (D), of Iowa City.
“The state of Iowa should never discriminate against a child or a group of children. We are better than that. If we’re not, we should be,” Mascher said. “Transgender children are 40% more likely to try and commit suicide. It is not because of who they are, it is because of how they are treated.”
However, many supporters argue this bill is intended to prevent discrimination by protecting girls sports.
One of the most vocal advocates of the bill has been Ainsley Erzen. The senior from Carlisle runs track and plays soccer. Next year, she’s going to the University of Arkansas to continue playing both sports.
With three younger sisters who are also athletes, she considers Monday’s vote another win for the future of all girls who want to participate.
“This is something that affects me a lot, but is also going to affect so many little girls in the future,” Erzen said. “I’ve had so many opportunities to go so many places, do so many things, accomplish so many things and I want all girls in the future to be able to have the opportunities that I have.”
“Did we mean Title IX to mean anything at all this entire time? That’s really the question and bogging it down to anything else does a disservice to all these girls’ hopes and dreams,” Todd Erzen, Ainsley’s father, said.
With the bill taking another step forward, it’s not eligible to be debated on the House floor.