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South Carolina becomes 16th state to ban biological males from girls' sports

Henry McMaster
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaks at an August 2021 event. |

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a law prohibiting biological males from playing in girls' sports as part of a wave of recent state-level legislation on scholastic sports.

McMaster signed Senate Bill 531, also known as House Bill 4608 or the Save Women's Sports Act, into law on Monday, making South Carolina the 16th state to pass such a measure.

In a statement posted to his official Facebook page, McMaster said that it was "common sense" that "boys should play boys sports and girls should play girls sports."

"We have to do everything we can to protect the young men and women in our state who choose to pursue athletic competition, and that's why I proudly signed this bill into law," the governor stated.

Terry Schilling, president of the conservative American Principles Project, commended McMaster and South Carolina lawmakers for "taking action to protect a fair playing field for girl athletes in the Palmetto State."

"Male athletes do not belong in our daughters' sports, period," stated Schilling. "Biology matters, and no amount of gaslighting by woke ideologues will change that."

"With 16 states now having taken this step, there is no excuse left for those states that haven't, particularly those led by Republicans."

The progressive coalition SC United for Justice & Equality denounced the law's passage, with coalition leader Ivy Hill saying that the legislation "harms young people in our state."

"Transgender youth are not a threat to fairness in sports, and this law now needlessly stigmatizes young people who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence, make friends, and build skills like teamwork and leadership, winning and losing," stated Hill.

"Despite this setback, we will never stop fighting on behalf of trans and queer young people, and our coalition will explore every strategy possible to surmount every barrier to equality."

With the law's passage, South Carolina becomes the 16th state to enact such measures for school sports, joining Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. 

In Kentucky, the Republican-controlled legislature passed the Fairness in Women's Sports Act last month by overriding a veto by Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear, who argued that the legislation was unnecessary due to preexisting restrictions on trans-identified student-athletes. 

The Biden administration has threatened to act against states that pass laws prohibiting trans-identified athletes from competing in athletic events that align with their gender identity. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona suggested in an interview with ESPN last year that his department would take action against states that pass laws requiring athletes to compete on sports teams consistent with their biological gender. 

"I recognize there's a lot of concern around … that issue. But what's not tolerable is saying that some students cannot participate because of their gender," he said.

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