Montana lawmakers worried about losing federal funding have amended a proposed ban on transgender women and girls competing in interscholastic women’s sports. The Senate has endorsed the amended bill.
Sen. Dan Salomon, R-Ronan, brought the amendment that would void the policy in the event that the U.S. Department of Education determines it discriminatory. He said the department could subsequently withhold the $350 million Montana gets in federal education funds.
"Just this one little tidbit: President Biden issued an executive order the very first day he was in office that specifies that it is the official policy of his administration to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation."
The amendment squeaked by on a 27-23 vote, and the Senate endorsed the bill as amended 29-21.
Republican Sen. Keith Regier carried the bill in the Senate, saying it aims to keep sports fair for women.
"Men transitioning to women pose a threat to womens’ sports and present a form of discrimination to women."
Montana is one of 20 states considering a ban on trans women competing in sports. The proposed policy would put states at odds with NCAA rules that allow transgender women to compete in intercollegiate sports.
Democrats, including Sen. Pat Flowers from Belgrade, have pushed back against the proposal since it was introduced in January.
"This bill isn’t needed to save womens’ sports," Flowers said. "All it will do is tell transgender girls and women they don’t belong."
House Bill 112 must clear another vote in the Senate and the House must concur to the amendment before the bill can head to Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte's desk for consideration.