NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday that he remains opposed to a bill that would keep transgender athletes in Louisiana from competing on college and K-12 women’s and girls’ sport teams, but he stopped short of saying he would veto a bill that passed the Senate hours earlier.
The Democratic governor vetoed similar legislation last year. The Senate on Tuesday night approved an override by the needed two-thirds majority, but the override effort fell two votes short in the House. Both chambers are dominated by Republicans.
On his monthly radio show Wednesday, Edwards echoed criticisms he made last year, saying the bill addresses something that hasn’t occurred in the state. “Because it is unnecessary, I think that there is a certain mean-spirited nature to it,” Edwards said.
The measure approved Tuesday night in Baton Rouge would apply to K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities, if they receive state funding. “Athletic teams or sporting events designated for females, girls, or women shall not be open to students who are not biologically female,” the bill states.
Opponents of the bill say there are no known transgender athletes currently competing in the state. They said it adds to discrimination against an already marginalized group.
Backers say athletes who were born biologically male have physical advantages over biological females. Mizell said the NCAA hasn’t gone through with threats to pull events from states that passed such laws.
Asked if he believed the NCAA would have pulled this year’s Final Four basketball tournament from New Orleans had the bill become law last year, Edwards said it was “a distinct possibility,” given the organization’s stance on the issue at the time. But he added, “I can’t tell you for a fact that the NCAA would have pulled it.”