Fortunato bill would establish biology-based rules for school sports competitions

State Sen. Phil Fortunato is seeking to create a middle path that protects biological women in sports while allowing transgender athletes to continue competing. Senate Bill 6116 would do away with women’s and men’s sports, instead relying on biological sex to determine how athletes compete in schools.

“This is about fairness and equity in sports competitions,” said Fortunato, R-Auburn. “While athletes identifying as a different gender and competing has become a prominent issue in sports, the reality is that there are undeniable biological differences between the sexes that must be accounted for.”

According to the bill, people born with an XX designation would compete with others who have XX chromosomes and identify as female. Similarly, those with XY chromosomes at birth would compete against other XY contestants identifying as male. Those with an identity that differs from their biological sex would still be able to compete with other athletes who have the same biological and sociological expressions.

In December of last year, the University of Washington drew criticism from national activists after purportedly offering a scholarship to a girls’ volleyball player from California who turned out to have been born male. Reports indicate the university has since rescinded the offer.

“We can balance the desire of athletes whose biological sex doesn’t match their expression while keeping school sports fair and safe,” Fortunato said. “This bill has nothing to do with excluding people, rather it’s about creating an even playing field that reflects biological reality.”

In addition to reorganizing interscholastic sports programs, the bill would establish protections for students, schools, and organizations overseeing school-based athletics to shield them from retaliation or complaints. Under Fortunato’s proposal, sports programs for children in grades K-6 would be exempt from these requirements.