The conference committee selected to deal with the bill aimed at discriminating against transgendered youth in ND reverted that bill back to banning transgendered youth from participation in athletics. Just days ago, the Senate turned the proposed ban into a study. Following the committee report, lawmakers are poised to force the ban and then study the side effects of their efforts on the state’s youth over two years. The Senate should reject the committee report or they simply accept the report and out-right defeat the entire bill.

It is rather remarkable to see a committee push dramatic changes and then suggest they study the harmful impacts after two years of their policy having been in place. Four of the six conference committee members, Sen. Janne Myrdahl, Michael Dwyer, Rep. Kathy Skroch, and Karen Rohr forced the adoption of the ban and a study to review the potential impacts of their discrimination on young North Dakotans. What may their study find?

These lawmakers may learn their policies have cost the state millions of dollars in tourism and lawsuits over two years. The CEO of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau Charley Johnson explained how this discrimination may prevent athletic tournaments from coming to ND. Just yesterday, the NCAA suggested they may pull their events from states with discriminatory laws. NDSU and UND fans taking notice? Lawsuits? Many of these lawmakers are eager to force lawsuits using ND’s name, treating it like their own personal piggybank.

Worse than the money their actions may cost the state, is the trauma it may cause young North Dakotans. Following the passage of Rep. Ben Koppelman’s original discrimination bill, NDx contributor Tessa Gould wrote, “There are major mental health consequences for young transgender North Dakotans who already deal with one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. In 2017, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) conducted a statewide survey of 10,000 middle and high school students. They found that queer youth in North Dakota attempt suicide at a rate 58 times higher than the estimated national average for suicide attempts. Nearly half of North Dakota’s LGBTQ+ youth experienced bullying because of their identity.” In North Dakota, that bullying continues from bigoted lawmakers who want to enshrine it into law. Shameful.

The results of their actions could shock lawmakers if they were to study the impacts. It is tragic they simply don’t care. They’d rather follow fellow gullible lawmakers pursuing praise from extreme out-of-state organizations to get personal political benefits and rake in future campaign contributions. If they did care, they’d study the potential impacts before ramming this ban through this backward-thinking Legislature.

Tyler Axness
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