Media Contact

Janna Farley,

February 10, 2021

The House Human Services Committee gave an amended version of House Bill 1298, a discriminatory bill targeting transgender student athletes, a do-pass recommendation.

The ACLU of North Dakota opposes House Bill 1298, legislation that would ban transgender athletes under the age of 18 from competing on the sports teams that match their gender identity.

“Barring transgender students from the benefits of athletics holds them back from living authentic and fulfilling lives,” said Libby Skarin, ACLU of North Dakota campaigns director. “Participation in athletic activities has a widespread positive impact on the social, physical and emotional well-being of students and provides lessons about self-discipline, teamwork, perseverance, success and failure. No one is harmed by allowing transgender people to compete consistent with who they are. House Bill 1298 is clearly fueled by a fear and misunderstanding of transgender people in our state.”

Currently, transgender athletes wishing to compete on school-sponsored teams may do so. The North Dakota High School Activities Association already has a policy in place for transgender athletes. House Bill 1298 is an effort to codify discrimination against transgender students under state law and undermines the authority of the NDHSAA to ensure equitable and fair participation in school activities.

Additionally, a recent presidential executive order on preventing and combating discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation states that “children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.” Because of this order, if House Bill 1298 passes, North Dakota will face a U.S. government that is actively enforcing Title IX’s protections against discriminatory policies targeting transgender students.

A copy of the ACLU of North Dakota’s written testimony to the House Human Services Committee is below.

About the ACLU of North Dakota

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of North Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes South Dakota and Wyoming. The team in North Dakota is supported by staff in those states.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit communities. The ACLU of North Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of North Dakota.