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Student athletes take the floor in Iowa subcommittee on second transgender athlete bill

The bill would prevent transgender women and girls from participating in sports that align with their gender identity.

DES MOINES, Iowa — After an Iowa House committee approved a bill aimed at preventing transgender women and girls from participating in sports that align with their gender identity, similar GOP-led legislation cleared the Senate education subcommittee and full committee Thursday. 

Legislation in the House covered competitions in private and public K-12 schools, while the Senate's also includes universities, charter schools and community colleges.

At Thursday's subcommittee meeting, student athletes poured into the committee room to weigh in. 

"I beg you, please do not take this away from me," said Carlisle High School sophomore Marie Daggett. "Please do not take this away from my sisters. Please protect the young girls of Iowa.

"I refuse to live in a world where little girls like my sisters have records, titles and scholarships robbed from them by biological male individuals," said Carlisle senior Ainsley Erzen.

Other students came to speak against the proposal and the impact they see it having on their peers. 

"When transgender youth are denied equal treatment like the ability to participate in sports, their suicide rates go up by 7%," said Norwalk Senior Hannah Groos, who also served as the Iowa Board of Education student representative."

RELATED: NCAA adopts sport-by-sport transgender policy

Students disagreeing on whether these athletes have an advantage on the playing field. 

"They are biologically male and they have a lot more testosterone and their muscles develop differently making them stronger," said Ames 7th grader Poppy Malone. 

"The ACLU has found no conclusive evidence that gender identity would effect the fairness of sports," said Norwalk freshman Henry Groos. 

One athlete worries the passing of this bill would put the sports she loves in jeopardy. 

"I love doing the sports, I do, because I get to do them with my friends. If I was told I couldn't participate with my friends I'd feel excluded," said Gavy Smith, a transgender athlete. "I'd feel sad I couldn't participate with friends like most girls my age."

This legislation passed both the subcommittee and full committee, making it eligible for debate on the Senate floor. 

RELATED: Gov. Reynolds signs into law first bill of 2022

WATCH | Teachers accused of misconduct would be named under proposed bill in Iowa House

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