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Poll: New Yorkers support restrictions on transgender high school athletes

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — In a Siena College poll released this week, 66% of New York voters who answered the survey said they support requiring high school athletes can only compete against others of the gender they were assigned at birth.

While 83% of Republicans and 77% of independent voters support the idea, even a slight majority of Democrats are in favor.

“We all know that New York is a liberal state so this tells you that this should not be a liberal, conservative or Democrat and Republican issue,” state Sen. George Borrelo, R-Sunset Bay, said.

Borrello sponsors a bill that would create such a requirement for high school and collegiate athletics.

“It took decades to level the playing field for women in sports and particularly high school and college so this is a bill to protect women’s sports,” he said.

Stonewall Democrats of WNY President Bryan Ball said there is little evidence transgender athletes competing in women’s sports is a pervasive issue. However, he said there is data showing trans and gender non-conforming kids deal with more instances of bullying and suicide.

“These are kids who just want to live their lives and be kids and play sports with their friends and they shouldn’t be targeted by these bills that are seeking to create a problem for all of these adolescents and their lives,” Ball said.

He said the poll is more confirmation transgender individuals have not won the same public opinion and legislative victories as other members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“If for nothing else than the segment of New  Yorkers who were interviewed for this poll feel this way, then the work needs to be done more and better to educate people on the lives and realities of transgender and gender non-conforming people,” Ball said.

Borrello said the intention is not to discriminate against transgender kids or exacerbate preexisting issues. He believes there can be alternatives like co-ed sports.

“I think that answer has to be provided depending on the situation and where you are but I think that there should be an accommodation made as long as we are protecting, ultimately, the fairness of competition,” he said.

Despite the polling, the state senator is skeptical his bill will gain traction due to the liberal leanings of many of his Democratic colleagues in the Legislature.

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