he Georgia High School Association’s executive committee voted 62-0 on Wednesday to require that athletes compete based on gender assigned at birth, effectively banning transgender athletes from participating based on gender identification.
The ruling restores the GHSA policy that existed before 2016, when the GHSA began allowing individual member schools to set their own policies. The organization oversees sports for the state’s public high schools.
GHSA executive director Robin Hines supported the executive committee’s decision.
“What they voted on was that the sex on the birth certificate is what will be used for competition,” Hines told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was unanimous.”
The outcome was not surprising. A Republican-sponsored state bill passed last month established an oversight committee to study transgender high school sports participation. At least a dozen states have banned transgender participation based on gender identity for school sports in recent years.
In early April, in a last-minute amendment to a bill restricting conversations about race in public school classrooms, lawmakers inserted a provision authorizing sports associations to make decisions about transgender athletes. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the “divisive concepts” bill, House Bill 1084, into law Friday. He is campaigning in a Republican primary against former U.S. Sen. David Perdue and signed a number of GOP-driven education bills that seemed to be channeling the electoral forces that powered Glenn Youngkin’s upset victory in the Virginia gubernatorial race last year.
”I’m proud to have championed this effort in Georgia!” Kemp said Wednesday on Twitter, after the GHSA vote.
Several GHSA executive committee members declined or did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
“We’re approaching this as a competitive-balance issue,” Hines told the AJC on Tuesday before the vote. “We don’t want to discriminate against anybody, but that includes biological girls. There are competitive imbalances generally between biological females and biological males.”
The GHSA has not cited any complaints of specific transgender athletes believed to have threatened competitive balance. It does not track participation among transgender students. Hines said he was aware only anecdotally of a couple of transgender athletes participating in boys cross-country.
The most widely known protest in high school sports nationally occurred in 2018, when two transgender girls won or placed second in events at a Connecticut state track-and-field meet. Three girls who finished behind them filed suit over Connecticut’s policy. The lawsuit ultimately was dismissed. In Tennessee, there is a lawsuit pending after a transgender boy was denied the chance to play for his school’s golf team bec…