Georgia bill would make transgender youth compete as gender identified at birth

August 17  2015 Atlanta: For File use anytime.  Goethe State Capitol.  Gold Dome. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

August 17 2015 Atlanta: For File use anytime. Goethe State Capitol. Gold Dome. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

A recently-elected Republican lawmaker has filed legislation that would ban teams from using public facilities if transgender children are competing in single-gender sporting events that don’t align with their gender identified at birth.

State Rep. Philip Singleton, a Sharpsburg Republican who was elected in an October special election, said he filed the bill because he didn't want anyone to have an "unfair advantage."

“The Student Athlete Protection Act is designed to ensure that biological boys will only compete in sports against other biological boys and vice-versa for girls,” Singleton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The intent of my bill is to make sure every student has the opportunity to compete fairly.”

Jeff Graham, the executive director of the LGBTQ rights organization Georgia Equality, called Singleton’s proposal an attack on transgender youth.

“Introduction of this legislation is clearly an attempt to further deny the humanity and existence of transgender people and attack some of the most most vulnerable students, which are transgender youth,” Graham said.

According to Singleton's proposal, House Bill 747, athletic teams would not be allowed to use public sports facilities if a transgender youth is competing in an individual sport against athletes who are not the same gender as the one the athlete was identified as having at birth.

He said his proposed legislation would not impact team sports, so it would not stop a girl from playing on a football team, for example.

Singleton said while he’s not aware of any transgender athletes the bill would apply to in Georgia, he wanted to address it before it became an issue in the state.

The Georgia High School Association already requires athletes to play sports on the teams that correspond with the gender denoted on a birth certificate.

“We’re seeing a lot of things happening in states across the country and a big part of my campaign promise was to preserve the character of my community,” Singleton said.

This isn’t the only legislation addressing transgender youth that has been proposed heading into the legislative session.

State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart, a Powder Springs Republican, in October announced her intent to file a bill that would make it a felony for medical professionals to assist a minor in gender transition. That bill has not yet been filed.