SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — A bill that would prohibit men from playing in women’s sports passed the Senate in South Carolina. SC Bill H4608, known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” is largely seen as a way of keeping transgender men from competing unfairly as women in youth sports.

The bill passed the state senate last week with an overwhelming majority with a vote of 40-10. The next step will require Gov. Henry McMaster to ratify the bill into law.

Lia Thomas
University of Pennsylvania transgender athlete Lia Thomas swims in a preliminary heat for the 500-meter freestyle at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

“It is the intent of the General Assembly to maintain opportunities for female athletes to demonstrate their strength, skills, and athletic abilities, and to provide them with opportunities to obtain recognition and accolades, college scholarships, and numerous other long-term benefits that result from participating and competing in athletic endeavors,” according to the bill.

The bill states that “requiring the designation of separate sex-specific athletic teams or sports is necessary to maintain fairness for women’s athletic opportunities.”

If signed into law by Gov. McMaster, the bill would require virtually all public youth sports, including interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, club teams, public elementary, secondary school, and postsecondary institutions to be specifically designated for men or women.

Girls will still be allowed to play sports with boys if there is no team available for women in a sport that only has a male team.

The bill is more restrictive for boys.

“Athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex,” according to the bill.

Co-ed sports are not affected by the bill.

Private schools would have to comply with the law if they compete against public schools, according to the bill.

To demonstrate an athlete’s gender, “a statement of a student’s biological sex on the student’s official birth certificate is considered to have correctly stated the student’s biological sex at birth if the statement was filed at or near the time of the student’s birth,” according to the bill.

Penn swimmer Lia Thomas competes in a 500-meter race in Philadelphia, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. The NCAA has adopted a sport-by-sport approach for transgender athletes, bringing the organization in line with the U.S. and International Olympic Committees. NCAA rules on transgender athletes returned to the forefront when Penn swimmer Lia Thomas started smashing records this year. (Heather Khalfia/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas drew attention to the possible advantages males could have in female sports by breaking several records as a woman. Legislation has followed in the wake of that controversy.

Last week, Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed off on legislation banning transgender athletes from participating in female college sports. . According to the Human Rights Campaign, Tennessee is one of eight states that have passed anti-transgender sports bills. These include Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah.