There are seven out LGBTQ athletes currently competing at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Four of the seven out athletes, all representing Team USA, are from states that have or are currently considering legislation targeting LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ youth. Out LGBTQ speed skater Brittany Bowe, US skeleton racer Andrew Blaser and US figure skater Timothy LeDuc–who will be the first nonbinary Winter Olympian–all come from home states where legislators are introducing laws that would prohibit LGBTQ people access to athletics, proper restrooms, education, medical care and basic recognition.
Between Iowa, home state of LeDuc; Florida, home state of Bowe; and Idaho, home state of Blaser; legislators have introduced 23 laws that will prohibit the rights of LGBTQ people and, ironically, would prevent out nonbinary and transgender athletes from participating in school sports. 23 states have introduced legislation this year that would specifically ban transgender youth from school sports; Mississippi, Tenessee, Idaho and Texas have already passed such bans in the past two years. GLAAD’s comprehensive guide to anti-LGBTQ 2022 state legislation is available here.
However, LeDuc has faith for the next generation of LGBTQ athletes regardless of what is to come.
“My hope is now being openly nonbinary and being outspoken about this, maybe it will make a path for other nonbinary and queer athletes that come into pairs in ice dance,” LeDuc said in a video interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The “Save Women’s Sports Act” pushed by Iowa Sen. Sandy Salmon does not share LeDuc’s sentiment. The bill known as HF184 regulates student participation in intramural or interscholastic sports and athletic teams based on biological sex and penalizes institutions that do not adhere to standards of the bill.
The Save Women’s Sports Act states that if a student’s “biological sex is disputed,” the student must provide a signed statement by a licensed physician based on reproductive anatomy, the students “normal, endogenously” produced levels of testosterone and analysis of genetic makeup.
This bill will not level the playing field, but what it will do is use transphobia and racism specifically to exclude transgender girls from sports and target Black women and girls whether or not athletes are cis, trans or intersex.
Namibian runners Christine Moma and Beatrice Masilingi were banned from competing in the 400 meter race at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics because their natural levels of testosterone were too high, a rule implemented in 2018 by World Athletics to keep competitions at a “level playing field.”
Moma and Masilingi are cisgender, but the rules that banned them from competition also impact trans athletes. According to a UCLA Williams Institute Law School report 0.7% of youth ages 13-17 identify as transgender where 0.6% of adults identify as transgender.
“We’ve always been here, we’ve always been a part of sports,” said LeDuc in an interview with NBC sports. “We just haven’t always been able to be open.”
Anti-LGBTQ legislature will also work to exclude LGBTQ resources in and outside the classroom.
Iowa legislators introduced HF187 to legalize religious institutions’ right to deny people access to public resources and education based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Likewise, Sen. Dennis Baxley of Ocala, FL, Bowe’s home city, has introduced S1834, otherwise known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity and requires school staff to out LGBTQ students to their parents regardless of whether they are accepting. If schools–well–say “gay,” they’ll be subject to costly liabilities if the bill becomes a law.
The Florida bill was endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this week. Florida’s “book ban” bill (SB1300) has also moved ahead, giving parents the right to question the appropriateness of books read in school—a direct response to months of heated school board debates over whether LGBTQ books and books by Black authors should be banned in multiple districts.
Other notable bills in Florida continue to go after LGBTQ and transgender education and medical care. The Youth Gender and Sexual Identitiy (H0211) bill provides criminal penalty to healthcare providers who engage in or perform certain medical procedures. Sen. Baxley has also introduced a similar bill, Protections of Medical Conscience (SB1820) which gives healthcare providers the right to deny medical procedures or care which violates their conscience.
According to a survey by Center for American Progress, nearly 1 in 2 transgender health care patients have been denied gender-affirming care by their insurer.
Florida already gives healthcare providers the right to deny services they oppose for political or relgious reasons such as abortions, contraception and counseling. Bills H0373, H0211 and SB1820 expand these rights further, threatening access to LGBTQ health care including abortions and gender affirming care.
Last but not least, Idaho–where the only US Olympic skeleton slider, Andrew Blaser, was born and raised–introduced one piece of legislation, H0488, which would ban “critical race theory” and discussions of sexual and gender differences in public institutions of higher education and other schools, and would penalize institutions that do so.
These bills will do harm to LGBTQ youth and athletes alike. They will ensure that athletes are excluded from having fun in sports or becoming a US Olympian like Brittany Bowe, Andrew Blaser and Timothy LeDuc. If you are worried about anti-LGBTQ bills moving through your local legislature, contact the state representatives sponsoring these dangerous bills.
Sen. Sandy Salmon – email: email@example.com and phone: 319-987-3021
Sen. Jeff Shipley can be contacted at Jeff.Shipley@legis.iowa.gov and phone: 319-432-3108
Sen. Dennis Baxley – email: firstname.lastname@example.org and phone: 352-750-3133
Sen. Joe Gruter can be contacted at email@example.com and phone: 941-378-6309
State Sen. Prascilla Giddings – email: firstname.lastname@example.org and phone: 208-570-8616
GLAAD celebrates the historic 35 out LGBTQ athletes competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics. Alongside Athlete Ally, a national nonprofit working to elevate and advocate for LGBTQ athletes, and OutChina, an organization working to increase visibility of China’s LGBTQ population. GLAAD is proud to release a “Guide to Covering LGBTQ Athletes at the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics” as a resource to journalists and media professionals. You can access the guide here or use the QR code below: