A new law was signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on March 3 that regulates who can participate in what sport, prompting reactions from all sides of the issue within a week of its passage.
The Iowa Legislature passed Internal File 2416 in late February, which prohibits transgender girls and women from competing in women’s sports at the state’s interscholastic and intercollegiate levels. The bill states that athletes must compete in events that match “the gender listed on a student’s official birth certificate” and not the one in which they identify.
Speaking for both himself and his fellow administrators and coaches, Waverly-Shell Rock athletic director and women’s basketball coach Greg Bodensteiner said the new law is something he and others were looking for, even if he did not directly support the bill.
In a phone interview with Waverly Newspapers the day after he signed, Bodensteiner said at the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union State Basketball Tournament that the state needed to provide direction on the matter.
“I don’t know what the right answer is,” Bodensteiner said. “We needed a guild or something from the state because there was…no guidance given before. It was a difficult situation to manage as a school, as a coach, as a sports director.
“Now that – true, false or indifferent – there is some direction to clarify how we would handle this.”
However, Wartburg College President Darrel Colson released a statement on March 8 that showed his support for transgender people as well as the LGBTQ+ community.
“Wartburg continues to comply with Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Acts of 1972, and numerous other federal statutes and regulations by law that ensure non-discrimination,” Colson said. “Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, on a deeper and more spiritual level, Wartburg College is strongly committed to maintaining a mutually respectful environment that recognizes and celebrates diversity among all students, faculty and staff. , making it imperative that we comply with such laws and regulations.”
Title IX states that no one shall be discriminated against on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Board of Governors voted on a similar issue earlier in 2022. Their vote concluded that the issue would be resolved on a sport-by-sport basis. The vote came after criticism from Penn University transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who qualified for the national championships.
Gay and transgender rights groups rallied against the legislation. They believe HF 2416 violates Title IX and other federal civil rights laws.
Becky Smith, director of Iowa Safe Schools, told Iowa Capital Dispatch in an article published just after the bill signing ceremony that transgender girls are not a threat to women’s sports.
“We are extremely disappointed that this law has passed,” Smith said.
The overall reaction to the bill is nearly equal. In a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll released March 9, 46% of 813 Iowans polled by Selzer and Co. between February 28 and March 2 supported the new law, while 45% opposed and 9% were unsure. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4%.
Split politically, Republicans strongly favored it at 72%, Democrats opposed it at 77%, while independent voters favored it slightly by a margin of 48% to 45%. The register also reported that a slight majority of women (52%) oppose the law, while most men (55%) support it.
The poll also showed that those with children under 18 are also in favor of the bill at 54%.
The new law adds a new section to Iowa Code 261I that covers extracurricular athletics. Section 261I.2(1)(b) states, “Only female athletes, based on gender, may participate in any team sport or sporting event designated as women-only, women-only or girls-only. »
Paragraph 2 of the new law allows female athletes, parents, teams or schools to sue an offender who allows a transgender girl to compete for damages with a two-year statute of limitations.
However, some members of the LGBTQ+ community — to use an NFL term — are challenging the new regulations. Deyton Love, an openly gay hurdler at Wartburg College, was shocked the Transgender Sports Bill passed.
“I thought as a state we were moving forward with LGBTQ+ rights, but after that I think the state of Iowa went backwards,” Love said. “The track crew didn’t say anything directly about the bill, but it’s definitely an elephant in the room.”
Knights women’s soccer coach Tiffany Pins also expressed disappointment.
“For me, any time we take participation opportunities away from athletes for whatever reason, that’s not something I can accept,” Pins said. “The NCAA takes a very different position than what our state currently does and that is going to cause a lot of confusion for the college.”
Bodensteiner and W-SR volleyball coach EaVon Woodin told Waverly Newspapers that they have yet to meet a transgender girl who wants to play for the Go-Hawks or as an opponent. However, they know they are there.
“It’s definitely something where some direction was needed,” Bodensteiner reiterated. “It would help people deal with it in the future. I have a feeling there will be a lot more to do with this in the future than the current situation.
Woodin added that rather than transgender girls, boys asked her to join the volleyball team. The Iowa High School Athletic Association does not sanction the sport for boys, but Woodin’s son, Greg, a Chicago-area banker, told him that men’s volleyball, sanctioned by the Illinois High School Association in the spring, is a great sport there.
“I don’t know if anyone has pushed (men’s volleyball) enough in Iowa already,” Woodin said, referring to IGHSAU’s recent announcement that women’s wrestling would be sanctioned starting in 2022- 23.
“They have clubs and stuff… I have 13 and 14 (age group) tournaments, and they have three or four boys on their girl team in club volleyball. They will let them. I think they can only have two or three (boys) in each team.
She added that several NCAA Division III and NAIA level colleges in Iowa have men’s volleyball, as both organizations hold championships in the sport in the spring. The conferences to which the University of Iowa, Iowa State and UNI belong — the Big Ten, Big 12 and Missouri Valley, respectively — do not have men’s volleyball at the championship level.
With the addition of female wrestling, the only sport in Iowa other than volleyball that has no equivalent in the opposite sex is soccer. However, HF 2416 does not prohibit girls from participating in men’s sports.
Additionally, cheerleading, dancing, and drill squad are non-gendered activities.
Love, the Wartburg hurdler, has seen some of the ripple effect within the LGBTQ+ community through various comments online about his impact on people like him in the future.
“I didn’t see much directly in front of me, but more opinions on what people think about the LGBTQ+ community online,” Love said. “There were people who I thought were allies of us expressing very different views of that. I can imagine that freaking out trans members of the community who are struggling to do what they love, which is competition.
Pins, the women’s soccer coach, backs Title IX. She feels that the new law takes a step back from all the work that has been done in the past.
“I think it was adopted because of the fear of the unknown,” Pins said. “This message will also take away opportunities for young women.
“I think more education on the subject could easily reverse that. As a country, I think we are going in the wrong direction when it comes to this topic. »
However, W-SR AD Bodensteiner was unsure how Title IX could be applied at the high school level.
“I think we all know there will be more – I don’t know if litigation is the right word – but there will be a lot more on this subject in the near future,” he said. “For those who support or do not support the current situation, I think there will be many opportunities for people to speak up and for changes to be made eventually again.”