Wisconsin governor defiantly vetoes bill that would make state ‘less safe’ for LGBTQ+ people

Wisconsin governor Tony Evers has vetoed a bill “in its entirety” that would have stopped transgender students competing in sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

Assembly Bill 377 called on school boards and other relevant bodies to prohibit transgender and non-binary student athletes from competing in teams or events that match their gender identity, leaving them instead to compete in teams consistent with their sex assigned at birth.

In an open letter announcing his decision to veto the bill on Tuesday (2 April) , Democrat Evers wrote that not only did the legislation conflict with several anti-discrimination laws but could also undermine federal legislation.

Last October, Evers warned that he would veto any bill “that makes Wisconsin a less safe, less inclusive, and less welcoming place for LGBTQ people and kids”.

The governor pointed to the US Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v Clayton County in 2020, which concluded that discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is a violation of the Civil Rights Act.

The bill also largely ignores a policy created by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletics Association in 2015, which gives schools the right to decide in which sports a student may participate, he added.

“Finally, and importantly, I believe this bill fails to comport with our Wisconsin values,” he said. “We expect our kids to treat [one another] with kindness, respect, empathy and compassion, and we should be able to expect adults to lead by example.

“I urge the Republican majority to do so while fully considering the harmful consequences its efforts and actions have on our kids, prior to introducing similar legislation in the future.”

Five senators and 32 house representatives – all Republican – sponsored the bill. It passed its final senate vote on 12 March in a vote of 21-11. No Democrats backed it while just one Republican, senator Joan Ballweg, voted against the proposal.