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Indiana takes another step closer to banning transgender female students from competing in women's sports

If passed, Indiana would be the 10th state to adopt a ban keeping people who were born male and identify as female from playing women's sports.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana students who were assigned male at birth but identify as female wouldn't be allowed to play girls' sports if a bill being considered in the Indiana legislature becomes law.

Supporters of House Bill 1041 who spoke during the Indiana House Education Committee hearing Monday said allowing transgender girls to participate gives them an unfair advantage.

"What would this do for those who have to rely on their own God-given abilities and talents," said Tami Neufer, a mom who supports the ban. "In the realm of creating fair playing fields, this notion would prohibit those athletes who may not be as well known from getting any scholarship money at all."

Even if this bill doesn't pass, advocates said they worry damage has already been done just by proposing it.

"Whether it goes further in the House or whether it gets shot down, there's still going to be the residual damage of this conversation even taking place," said Zoe O'Haillin-Berne, marketing and communications director at Indiana Youth Group. 

RELATED: NCAA adopts sport-by-sport transgender policy

The Trevor Project, which is an LGBTQ suicide prevention organization, found more than half (52%) of transgender youth seriously considered suicide in the past year and 20% attempted it. 

That report, which came from surveys of 35,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 across the U.S., found transgender and nonbinary youth reported lower rates of suicide if their pronouns were respected and they were able to legally change their name or gender marker. 

O'Haillin-Berne said discussions like the one happening in Indiana contribute to the high rates of suicide among transgender youth. 

"They're being told that they're less than," O'Haillin-Berne said. "They're being gaslighted into believing that they are not who they are."

As written, Indiana's bill only applies to youth sports. It wouldn't impact teams at the collegiate level. If passed, the law would take effect in July 2022. 

Indiana would be the 10th state to adopt a ban like this, but there are already questions of if it's legal.

Idaho and West Virginia's laws have been halted by federal judges and other states are facing challenges from the U.S. Department of Justice. A similar bill has been proposed in Kentucky.

Since the bill passed out of committee Monday, it'll now head to the House floor for consideration. The Indiana Senate would still need to weigh in as well before it could go to the governor's desk.

Contact reporter Rachel Droze at rdroze@whas11.com. Follow her on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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