Mississippi Republicans have said the law, which will affect state schools and universities, is a necessary response to President Biden’s day-one executive order calling on schools across the country to allow students to participate in sports under their chosen gender identity.
“This important piece of legislation will ensure that young girls in Mississippi have a fair, level playing field in public school sports,” Reeves said Thursday.
“It sends a clear message to my daughters and all of Mississippi’s daughters that their rights are worth fighting for,” he added.
The legislation, known as the Mississippi Fairness Act, is just one of 25 other bills popping up around the country as some conservatives fear allowing biological male athletes to participate in female sports could strip biological females of opportunities to fairly compete.
Reeves, a father of three daughters who play sports, took to Twitter earlier this month after lawmakers passed the bill, saying the measure would “protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological males for athletic opportunities.”
The Republican governor was asked Thursday if he could point to a specific occurrence in Mississippi where a female athlete had been surpassed by a transgender athlete.
Reeves did not highlight any examples but pointed to Biden’s order as the reason youth sports have taken the front seat politically across the nation.
“Now, I never would have envisioned on Inauguration Day 2020 that we would be here this morning. In fact, I never envisioned on Inauguration Day 2021 that we would be here this morning. But for the fact that President Biden, as one of his first initiatives, sat down and signed an executive order which in my view encourages transgenderism amongst our young people,” Reeves said.
Champions for LGBTQ rights condemned the bill Thursday saying it “isn’t about protecting fairness in women’s sports.”
“It’s about erasing and excluding trans people from participation in all aspects of public life,” Mississippi’s ACLU branch said in a statement Thursday. “Not once have the supporters of this bill cited an actual dispute over this issue in Mississippi.”
“Whatever your politics, we should all agree that ostracizing middle and high school kids is not something to celebrate,” the statement added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.