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Indiana GOP governor vetoes bill seeking to ban biological males from competing in women's sports

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Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb this week vetoed a bill that sought to prevent biological males from competing in women's interscholastic sports, calling the legislation too broad and claiming there is currently no need for such a policy in Indiana.

Holcomb's veto comes as at least 11 other Republican states across the country have passed bills to guard competitive fairness against the designs of the transgender movement. In recent years, it has become more common for schools and other institutions to allow biological males presenting as transgender females to compete in women's sports.

Often, the athletes go on to easily defeat the female competition given their physical advantage. Just this past week, University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas garnered national headlines and ignited controversy after becoming the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA women's swimming title.

But in a letter to state lawmakers on Monday, Holcomb argued that such a problem doesn't currently exist in his state, and so the bill, known as HEA 1041, is not necessary.

"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," the governor wrote.

"It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met," he continued, adding, "After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal."

Holcomb also raised concerns that the bill sent to his desk was too broad and consequently would lead to confusion in school districts and result in legal challenges upon passage.

"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," Holcomb wrote. "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."

While the bill's message is clear, it intentionally leaves vague the processes by which grievances are filed and subsequently resolved.

The bill states that "a male, based on a student's biological sex at birth in accordance with the student's genetics and reproductive biology, may not participate on an athletic team or sport designated under this section as being a female, women's, or girls' athletic team or sport."

From there, any student or parent can submit a grievance and every schooling institution in the state is required to establish and maintain a resolution procedure.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Holcomb, who has often embraced conservative policies, would consider signing a tweaked or narrower version of the bill. But in his letter, the governor did call the aim to protect fairness in women's sports "a worthy cause for sure."

On the same day that he vetoed HEA 1041, Holcomb signed a bill that allowed for permitless carry of handguns in his state.

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