Advocacy groups, lawmakers react to controversial transgender bill

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed HB 391 last week into law. The bill would prohibit transgender children to participate in sports their gender identifies with.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Scott Stadthagen, says the bill is meant to protect women athletes, but many LGBTQ groups and democratic lawmakers see the bill as harmful to trans youth in Alabama.

“That their legislators do not care to understand them,” Lauren Jacobs with the Magic City Acceptance Center said.

Both Jacobs and Amanda Keller with the Magic City Acceptance Center say HB 391 is sending a dangerous message to transgender children in the state.

“Because it tells them that they are not valid, they are not seen, they are not worthy of participating in something as simple as an extracurricular activity,” Keller said.

Rep. Stadthagen says the bill does no such thing.

“It’s a protection to female athletes,” Stadthagen said.

Stadthagen says whichever gender is on a child’s birth certificate, that will be the sport the child is allowed to play. He believes his bill keeps sports for women fair and safe.

“That is not fair to them and that is the sole purpose of this bill,” Stadthagen said.

Rep. Neil Rafferty out of Birmingham says the bill will do more harm than good for the state.

“Why we don’t hear that this is a problem is because it’s not one,” Rafferty said.

Advocates against the bill believe there could be economic impacts from it. Events like the NCAA tournament in 2023 and 2025 could be pulled out because of anti-transgender bills. David Galbaugh with the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitor’s Bureau says if that happens, it could cost the state millions of dollars.

“It could be very, very harmful,” Galbaugh said.

Rep. Stadthagen says groups shouldn’t pull those type of moves.

“We can’t bow down to that. We can’t bow down to economic threats and let them run our state,” Stadthagen said.

Galbaugh hopes state legislators consider all the factors whenever they present future bills.

“I know this is a sensitive subject, but to kind of explore and make sure that we don’t do any economic harm,’ Galbaugh said.

Both sides say they want to protect all children in the state.

“So, that’s where I stand and I will stand this way for the rest of my life,” Stadthagen said.

“Because they deserve a voice in all this,” Jacobs said.

The NCAA has commented on anti-transgender bills proposed across the country, stating they will closely continue monitoring the situation.

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