By Kevin Tengesdal | Bismarck

North Dakota House Bill 1298 is a bill to create and enact a new section to chapter 14-02.4 of the North Dakota Century Code, relating to participation in athletic events exclusively for males or females. Rep. Ben Koppelman, District 16, West Fargo, building contractor, introduced the bill to the House Human Services Committee with “The trend is increasing nationwide, and as all trends do, they eventually come to North Dakota.” He views the bill as a proactive measure against “shifting national winds.” North Dakota legislators should not pass policies discriminating against and banning youth from playing sports because they are transgender. This policy establishes roadblocks for students simply because people do not understand the scope of what it means to be transgender.

HB 1298 intentionally excludes transgender and intersex youth from sports. Like every student, transgender kids thrive when treated with dignity and respect. Youth sports programs teach young people about leadership, confidence, self-respect and belonging to a team. Medical experts, sports associations like the NCAA and the International Olympic Committee, and school administrators state that policies, as proposed by this bill, are harmful and profusely unnecessary.

Residents of North Dakota must be better than this. We support fairness, freedom and understanding. We can celebrate youth sports, protect transgender kids from discrimination, and provide young people the opportunity to access the lessons and opportunities that sports offer. Stand with North Dakota’s youth by telling North Dakota legislators not to support HB 1298. Targeting our young people for who they are is destructive and against our core values as North Dakotans. North Dakota’s transgender kids, who are already struggling and dying while legislators play political games, deserve our respect and support.

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