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Let the Children Play Sports

I honor Ms. Powell’s advocacy in ensuring that sports and other opportunities are truly fair and equitable for women and young girls. But the Save the Women’s Sports Act does quite the opposite. Sex-segregated sports in schools is a remnant of the terrible part of America’s history where women were prohibited from voting, seeking certain employment, owning assets, and yes, being a part of school sports and activities.

School sports provide such an important opportunity for children to learn about teamwork, respect for one another and to test and improve upon their own abilities. By keeping sports segregated, we have systemically denied the opportunity for children to learn to view each other as equals, and to develop healthy boundaries and respect for one another at a young age.

In fact, integrated sports, teams and activities in public schools would very likely lead to large scale decreases in domestic violence and sexual assault, and greater women’s equity and equality in government leadership and the workforce. It would allow boys, girls, transgender, intersex and multi-gender people to learn more about one another at young age, resulting in less discrimination, greater understanding and a more inclusive and cohesive American society as a whole. It could enable people to learn more about healthy and respectful boundaries, healthy expressions of emotions, and empower women to be fully integrated and equal in society which is long past due.

When it comes to competition, I have personally met hundreds, if not thousands, of women who can hold their own with men twice their size. Competitors of all sexes and genders should be able to compete with all others who have similar age, height, weight, endurance and ability so that they can truly test and improve their own personal abilities and be the best they can be. Separating competitors by their real or perceived genitals fails to account for many other competitive factors, including endurance, will, perseverance and the human spirit.

The assertion that all men have “biological advantages” over all women is an incomplete observation similar to the idea the Earth is flat. Sure, if you don’t take into account science, astronomy, gravity, or even pictures of Earth being round, it can seem like the Earth is flat because we don’t fall off.

The same is true with “biological sex and gender”. Yes, there are many people born with a penis and two testicles. And yes, there are many people born with a vagina. These are the people who are most visible in our society.

But we now know that people can be born with XX, XY, XXY, and wide range of variations in chromosomes. There are also people who are born with a fully functioning penis, testicles, ovaries and a uterus in the same body. There are people born with a penis and no testicles, 1 testicle and 3 testicles. There are people born with a vagina, and no abilities to reproduce. There are people born with both a penis and a vagina. Regardless of external genital make-up, we also know that testosterone and estrogen – and their impacts on physical development – vary widely from person to person. These are all natural, normal variations of human biological sex, gender and reproductive abilities.

Saying the Earth is flat, or that there are “just two biological sexes,” doesn’t mean it’s true.

Instead of trying to dismantle systemic sexism and ensure inclusion and opportunity for all children, the “Save the Women’s Sports Act” doubles down on sexism and perpetuates a belief that women are biologically inferior to men, which is simply not true. Further, it intentionally seeks to discriminate against and exclude school-aged children, youth and young adults from participating in their public school activities.

In a state of 11 million people, the transgender population alone includes more than 110,000 children, youth and adults – more than the entire populations of Darke and Auglaize Counties combined. But this law goes far beyond targeting transgender children. There are people who were born with a penis, two testicles and a uterus, and you would never know by looking at them. These children would also be prohibited from participating in school activities. In fact, voters should be fully informed that this law requires public school children to undergo genital exams, genetic analysis, internal reproductive analysis, and a review of hormonal levels before they are allowed to play sports and participate in school activities. When it comes to inappropriate government overreach, this law is about as un-Republican and un-American as you can get. It intentionally targets hundreds of thousands of children, as well as their families, friends and loved ones.

The Save the Women’s Sports Act belittles women and girls, forces invasive genital exams upon school children, and creates a new class of children, youth and adolescents who will be excluded from activities simply because of how they were born. If the legislature wants to advance women’s equality and equity (and it should), it’s time for legislation to fully integrate Ohio’s public school sports and activities and end gender segregation and discrimination once and for all.

Ryan Acker

Greenville