Testimony Heard on Bill Labeled as ‘The Sports and Spaces Act’

LINCOLN–(KFOR Feb. 14)–Members of the Nebraska Legislature’s education committee held a hearing Monday over LB 575, which is known as The Sports and Spaces Act.

The bill from Omaha Senator Kathleen Kauth would require schools to maintain a record of a student’s “biological gender” from a sports physical, which would then be used to assign them to either boys or girls athletics or activities in K through 12 schools despite their current gender identity.

“This bill does not discriminate against students based on their gender identity,” Kauth said.

LB 575 follows several others across the country, including Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

“Youth who are dealing with gender dysphoria are not prevented from playing sports,” Kauth later added. “They and all students must play on the sports teams and use the locker and bathrooms that match their biological sex.”

One bill supporter said she would feel comfortable sharing a locker room with males.

“With an already increasing dropout rate of girls participating in sports, I fear that allowing males in locker rooms would only further discourage female sports participation,” said University of Nebraska-Kearney student Paige Steinman.

The Nebraska School Activities Association, which oversees the state’s high school sports and activities, approved a policy in 2016 that creates a process to allow transgender students to participate in sports. If approved, Kauth’s bill would supersede that policy.

“(NSAA) policy is consistent with current policy for athletes in the NCAA,” said opponent Ryan Salem, who is the head cross country coach at Lincoln Southwest High School. “LB 575 is unnecessary, unwanted legislation that all Nebraska high school athletes and teams are already held to a standard.”