This week, the House Education Committee dealt with SB 44 by Republican state Sen. Beth Mizell and HB 837 by GOP state Rep. Dodie Horton. The former would allow scholastic and collegiate athletes to participate in single-sex sports only that align to their biological sex (except that females could voluntarily participate in male-designated sports), while the latter would prohibit discussions during classroom sessions about sexual orientation or gender identity up through eighth grade.
SB 44, a replicant of a bill that both chambers passed last year but which suffered a veto at the hands of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards and survived an override attempt, sailed through the panel with only Democrat scold state Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman voting against, although her partisan colleague state Rep. Tammy Phelps ducked the vote and state Rep. Ken Brass missed the meeting, leaving only state Rep. Patrick Jefferson also there, who voted for it. The compelling case for it was buttressed further by testimony from a former Shreveport soccer player, Anne Metz.
Metz, who played in college against LSUS and briefly for a Shreveport team, recounted how several months ago she suffered an injury that still lingers by the actions of a biological male claiming female gender in a match in Colorado. While much attention has gone to how the superior athletic qualities afforded males compared to females makes for an unfair playing field in these instances and the psychological harm to women and girls that results, Metz’s testimony reminded that allowing males to play against females in many single-sex female sports additionally raised the chances of significant physical injury to females because of the greater force males could bring in certain competitive situations.
Yet only a day earlier, joining the hopeless Freeman, Jefferson, now with Brass and Phelps present, voted against HB 837, a bill entirely necessary to prevent grooming of children into sexualized behavior. While some naysayers claim educators don’t take advantage of their positions to promulgate an ideological agenda along these lines, it indisputably happens.
Cruelly, grooming, whether with the intent of enticing sexual interactions or merely to propagate an ideological agenda, takes advantage of the power asymmetry between teachers and students, as well as preys upon the impressionable nature of younger children. It also interferes with parents’ right to provide moral instruction to their children without subversion by the state, exemplified by active efforts from the California Teachers Association to support members in keeping parents in the dark about their encouraging children to rebel against that. (And it works both ways; such a law prevents teachers from asserting it’s objectionable to act differently according to societal norms than what someone of that sex typically behaves.)
HB 837 is very much stripped down from a more comprehensive version passed into law in Florida recently, and an argument could be had about whether it needs more specificity to prevent unintended consequences or adjustment downward covering only up to sixth grade, for example. That’s something that could have occurred and been resolved in committee, or between there and the floor, and any legislator serious about helping children would have supported that process.
Instead, the panel killed the bill, and given it has a GOP majority, needed Republicans to do it. And it found three uncaring such stooges: state Reps. Stephanie Hilferty (who managed to be absent for the SB 44 vote), Barbara Reich Freiberg, and Vinney St. Blanc.
With that action, shame on Brass, Freeman, Freiberg, Hilferty, Jefferson, Phelps, and St. Blanc for putting children into harm’s way, psychologically if not physically.