Paul Neidig

(3-22-22) Following is the statement by Paul Neidig, Commissioner, Indiana High School Athletic Association on Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s veto of House Bill 1041. The bill focused on participation by transgender athletes –

In an ever-changing world, the IHSAA continues to work tirelessly to maintain fairness and equity in all education-based athletics. Protecting the integrity of girls sports is a worthy cause. That said, the specific language included in HB1041 does not adequately address all of the issues at hand.

As Commissioner of the Association, I support Governor Holcomb’s decision regarding his veto of HB1041. Throughout the legislative process, I publicly expressed reservations with the proposed legislation only addressing a single gender and the grievance procedure.

The Association appreciates the Governor’s perspective in recognizing the IHSAA’s gender policy, which was originally written in 2006 and updated in 2017. Our policy is rooted in the Association’s substantial interest in students’ health and safety, in competitive equity, in safeguarding a level playing field, and in ensuring that there is fair opportunity for athletic participation in a manner that enhances the education of all high school students. Through Governor Holcomb’s veto, this policy continues to allow the flexibility to assess competitive advantage in each unique case.

The bill passed by wide margins in the GOP-dominated Indiana Legislature, and House Speaker Todd Huston announced plans on Tuesday for a May 24 meeting during which it could override Gov. Holcomb’s veto with simple majorities in the House and Senate.

Huston issued the following statement-

“The fundamental goal of this legislation is to protect competition in girls’ sports, and House Republicans will vote to override this veto when lawmakers meet again on May 24. This issue continues to be in the national spotlight and for good reason as women have worked hard for equal opportunities on the playing field – and that’s exactly what they deserve.”

Rep. Michelle Davis sponsored the bill and is a former Division 1 college athlete. She said this bill is necessary for leveling the playing field-

“Despite being equal, biological males and biological females both possess different genetic strengths and weaknesses. Because of these differences, biological girls should compete with girls and biological boys should compete with boys. This commonsense legislation would protect athletic opportunities for Hoosier girls right now and into the future. This bill is especially important as we mark the 50th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX giving women athletes the right to an equal opportunity in sports. Hoosier girls deserve better and that’s why I look forward to taking action to override this veto.”

After he vetoed the bill the Governor sent a letter to House Speaker Huston-

“…if it is the goal of HEA 1041 to provide clarity and one consistent state policy regarding the fairness in K-12 sports in Indiana, for me this current bill falls short.”

The wide-open nature of the grievance provisions in HEA 1041 that apply to all K-12 schools in Indiana makes it unclear about how consistency and fairness will be maintained for parents and students across different counties and school districts. The presumption of the policy laid out in HEA 1041 is that there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention. It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met. After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal.”

Indiana House Bill 1041

Participation in school sports. Requires, for purposes of interscholastic athletic events, school corporations, public schools, nonpublic schools, and certain athletic associations to expressly designate an athletic team or sport as one of the following:

(1) A male, men’s, or boys’ team or sport.

(2) A female, women’s, or girls’ team or sport.

(3) A coeducational or mixed team or sport.

Prohibits a male, based on the student’s biological sex at birth in accordance with the student’s genetics and reproductive biology, from participating on an athletic team or sport designated as being a female, women’s, or girls’ athletic team or sport. Requires school corporations, public schools, certain nonpublic schools, and certain athletic associations to:

(1) establish and maintain grievance procedures;

(2) maintain grievance or protest procedures established before July 1, 2022; for a violation of these provisions.

Establishes a civil action for a violation of these provisions. Provides that school corporations, public schools, certain nonpublic schools, and certain athletic associations are not subject to liability in a civil, administrative, disciplinary, or criminal action for acting in compliance with these provisions.