Like the rest of the world, our hearts are heavy this week as we watch the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is truly devastating. Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine.
On the home front, the good news is that Utah’s 2022 Legislative Session is almost over. With just one week left, the final countdown has begun, and we are waiting on the edge of our seats to see how things shake out.
As always, you can check out our bill tracker for daily updates.
Here are updates from week 6:
HB 11 Student Eligibility in Interscholastic Activities
Chief Sponsor: Rep. Kera Birkeland; Senate Sponsor: Sen. Curtis Bramble
After failing to pass a bill last year that would have banned all transgender kids from playing school sports, Rep. Birkeland now has a bill that would create a commission to determine the individual eligibility for transgender and non-binary youth to participate in K-12 school sports.
We are following the lead of advocates who have been working tirelessly on this issue. Equality Utah, the ACLU of Utah, and others have worked with Rep. Birkeland in hopes that they could come to an agreement everyone feels good about. However, LGBTQ+ advocates do not yet support this legislation due to three major concerns. First, they do not believe that the commission should be appointed by partisan elected officials for fear that in the future, some appointments may be politicized by a person who has a bias against transgender students. Second, they believe that in the current draft, the qualifications place far too much weight on the value of competition, and far too little on the value of participation, especially in the context of high school. Third, they have serious concerns around the list of physical characteristics that would be measured on children. Such a criteria could be humiliating to young students, who are already struggling with gender dysphoria.
HB 11 has passed the full House and the Senate Business and Labor committee. It is now awaiting a vote from the full Senate.
TAKE ACTION: Please contact your state senator and respectfully ask them to encourage the above changes to the bill or to vote no on the current version of HB 11. Remember, you can find your legislators at le.utah.gov.
HB 382 Abortion Modifications
Chief Sponsor: Rep. Kera Birkeland
Last week we told you about Rep. Birkeland’s stigmatizing and needless bill that would change the “informed consent” process, more harshly punish abortion providers, and add layers of extreme restrictions to abortion care. This bill is still in the House Rules committee and quickly running out of time to advance.
Our team is closely monitoring this bill and will issue an action alert if its status changes.
On the federal level, the Women’s Health Protection Act will get a vote in the Senate on Monday. It has already passed the House. If passed, the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA) would be the first federal statute to establish the right to provide and receive abortion throughout the country — free from harmful bans and unnecessary restrictions. Speak out now: Tell your senators to vote 'yes' on the Women's Health Protection Act.
Thank you for taking action! We hope you get the chance to hold your loved ones closely this weekend.