BR.firstdaytwo.041321 TS 487.jpg (copy)

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday he does not support bills aimed at putting curbs on transgender athletes and related issues.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday he will not back bills that would place curbs on transgender athletes and other proposals that would restrict minors pursuing transgender treatments.

"I am concerned about emotionally fragile people," Edwards told reporters.

The brief comments could signal the death knell of the bills at the start of the second week of Louisiana's two-month session.

While Republicans control the state House and Senate, backers of the bills would have to muster the support of two-thirds of each chamber to have the rules take effect over any potential gubernatorial veto by the Democrat. Edwards' views could also take the steam out of the politically charged topic before the debate even begins amid similar efforts in other states.

"I am hopeful the state Legislature does not see fit to advance these bills," the governor said.

Edwards made the comment in response to a question during a press conference where he announced that Louisiana is getting $216 million in federal dollars for road and bridge projects.

The money stems from the second stimulus measure passed by Congress, this one in December.

One proposal pending in the state House that would ban transgender athletes from taking part in girls or women's sports in public schools. It is sponsored by state Rep. Beryl Amedee, R-Houma.

She acknowledged the issue has not caused a problem in Louisiana but called the measure proactive. It is House Bill 542.

Backers say that, in the case of athletes, it is unfair to let trans girls compete against athletes who were assigned female at birth. Opponents counter that the topic has not caused trouble in schools.

"We don't have a problem in Louisiana today," Edwards said.

The president of the Louisiana Trans Advocates made the same point earlier this month.

Another proposal by state Sen. Mike Fesi, R-Houma, would require transgender youth to get the written consent of their parents to receive hormones, puberty blockers and other gender-affirming therapy.

The scoop on state politics in your inbox

Get the Louisiana politics insider details once a week from us. Sign up today.

A third measure by state Rep. Michael Firment, R-Pollock, would impose criminal penalties for providers that offer most transgender treatments and surgeries.

The issue has also raised the specter of economic development ramifications if Louisiana enacts a controversial transgender law. 

The National Basketball Association in 2016 moved its All-Star game out of Charlotte because North Carolina had passed a law that banned transgender people from using bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities.

The NCAA Board of Governors last week issued a statement that said it will only host championship events in states that are "safe, healthy and free of discrimination." That stance has triggered questions on whether the enactment of any such law here could jeopardize New Orleans hosting the NCAA Men's Final Four in 2022.

Edwards was on hand in New Orleans last week for the kickoff of preparations for next year's basketball tournament.

The filming of the movie "Emancipation," which stars Will Smith, is being moved from Atlanta to New Orleans because of controversy over a new voting rights law approved by the Georgia Legislature. Critics, including President Joe Biden, contend the measure will infringe of the voting rights of Black citizens and other minorities.

Others have branded the criticism grossly overblown and that, in some respects, the Georgia voting law is less restrictive than those in many other states.

Major League Baseball moved its All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver because of criticism over the same law.

The bills by Amedee and Firment are pending in the House Health and Welfare Committee.

The measure by Fesi is awaiting action in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

The topic has already generated enough attention that the first hearing on the bills is expected to spark a big turnout on both sides.

Editors note: This story was changed to remove a paragraph written by a New York Times reporter that, due to a miscommunication by an Advocate editor, was included in this article without attribution.

Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.

Tags