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Commissioner Harding decries House Bill 972

Supports mixed gender sports, LGBTQ participants

Angela Harding

LOCK HAVEN — Clinton County Commissioner Angela Harding didn’t mince her words, showing her extreme disapproval of House Bill 972.

The bill, which “seeks to ensure athletic fairness in Pennsylvania by allowing only biologically born females to compete in women’s sports,” was introduced in the House on Monday.

And State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, R-Clinton/Centre counties, was one of the five major sponsors of the controversial bill.

Harding, speaking out against the bill at Thursday’s meeting of the Clinton County Commissioners, said “Biological sex and gender identity are two different things. Over the course of time, they have been used interchangeably as the same thing. While our bodies may say one thing, there are instances where our brains say something different. And that is OK.”

Currently, the PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) has a policy in place that was approved in 2014, seven years ago, that allows for mixed gender sports. In keeping in line with Title IX, girls may participate in traditional boy sports and boys may participate in traditional girls sports if the sport is not offered for their sex. Each school in the PIAA has the authority to determine if the student athlete would have an unfair advantage and if so… they, the school, may deny the request.

“Right now — right here in Clinton County — we have young females competing in Little League, flag football, clay shooting, and a plethora of other traditionally male competitions. Not to mention, the young females competing in the sport of wrestling. These young ladies are thriving, they are winning and they are learning the lessons of sports — hard work, focus, and resilience. Currently we have boys who are participating in dance, cheer and probably other activities that are traditionally female… I am just not aware of them. My point is… the pendulum does not swing one way,” Harding said.

“LGBTQ is not new. Gender identity has been around since the creation of mankind,” she continued, calling House Bill 972 “undermining and damaging to the transgender youth in our community.”

“It perpetuates the idea that respect and opportunity should only be available to certain types of children. This ideology solves nothing. Our children deserve better and the families of trans and LGBTQ deserve better,” she said.

“Legislation like this gives the nod for discrimination, bullying, and targeting. It closes a door on a segment of the human population of young adults who deserve to be understood. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in children 10-18. Many if not most childhood suicides are linked to bullying and targeting,” Harding continued.

“I realize that societal shift and human evolution can be very difficult things. And possibly a shock to our belief systems. But I truly believe that our creator, your creator would expect us — as adults, as leaders — to protect our children, foster healthy growth, and listen.

“In a world, a state, and a county facing pandemics and disease, poverty, food insecurity, an opiod crisis, employment shortfalls — the list goes on and on — our focus should be on respecting all human beings that are trying to find their way. This life is hard enough, it is not our job to make it harder.

“As the first female commissioner of Clinton County, I obviously care and strive for women’s advancements and equity in our society. But just as important to me are our children. Children that will become productive members of our society and hopefully more tolerant, accepting, and kind. Just because we may not understand something does not mean that we close a door on it.

“I support our LGBTQ youth and their families in Clinton County and across the commonwealth. And I would ask you to do the same,” she said.

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