Wisconsin governor vetoes transgender student-athlete bill News
Lectrician2, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Wisconsin governor vetoes transgender student-athlete bill

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers vetoed a bill that requires schools to separate sports based on sex assigned at birth. The bill was seen by Evers and members of the LGBTQ+ community as being targeted against trans student-athletes. It was largely supported by Republican state legislators.

In his signed veto message, Evers cited two main legal arguments for vetoing the bill. The first is that the bill “ignores a transgender student-athlete policy created by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association in 2015.” Under that policy, it was up to the individual school districts, in consultation with students and medical professionals, to create a policy around the participation of transgender athletes in sports.

The second legal argument that Evers advanced is the idea that the law violates Title VII and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Those provisions ban the government from discriminating on the basis of sex for purposes of federal employment or public education receiving federal funding. In the 2020 US Supreme Court case Bostock v. Clayton County, the court held that discrimination on the basis of sex was inclusive of discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees.

Lastly, Evers made a policy argument stating, “I believe this bill fails to comport with Wisconsin values. We expect our kids to treat each other with kindness, respect, empathy, and compassion and we should be able to expect adults to lead by example.”

In October 2023, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 377. The bill requires each school board, independent charter school and private school that operate or sponsor sports teams to designate the teams as all male, all female or coed. It also defines sex as “determined by a physician at birth and reflected on the birth certificate.”

Currently, 24 states have passed laws preventing transgender student-athletes from competing in the sports category that aligns with their gender identity.