Utah Governor Spencer Cox, a Republican, has pledged to veto a bill approved by lawmakers on Friday that would prohibit transgender youth from competing in girls sports.

Cox addressed transgender student athletes, saying that they were caught up in a political debate they did not create.

“I just want them to know that it's gonna be okay,” he said. “We're gonna work through this.”

Cox had been lobbying for a compromise on the bill that would create a commission of experts to decide on individual cases and was stunned to learn that lawmakers advanced and passed an outright ban.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBTQ rights advocate, praised Cox's pledge to veto the legislation, which he first made in February.

“As the first governor this year pledging to veto anti-trans legislation sent to his desk for signature,” Cathryn Oakley, HRC's state legislative director and senior counsel, said in a statement. “Gov. Cox deserves praise for standing up to those who continue to target and attack transgender youth. Transgender kids are kids, and they do not deserve to be the targets of dehumanizing attacks that invalidate their identity. Like all children, they deserve the opportunity to play sports with their friends and learn important life skills like sportsmanship, teamwork, and healthy competition through athletic participation. Utahns deserve better than legislators who are seeking to bully transgender youth with politically motivated bills for the sake of discrimination itself.”

“Gov. Cox has shown he sees the humanity of the transgender youth impacted by this legislation – something Governors in states like South Dakota and Iowa have not. The Human Rights Campaign appreciates his promise to veto,” she added.

It is widely believed that there is not enough support among lawmakers to override Cox's veto.

Eleven Republican-led states have approved similar bans, including Idaho, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Lawmakers in Indiana this week sent a similar bill to Republican Governor Eric Holcomb's desk for final approval.