The Texas House of Representatives approved a bill on October 14 prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in school sports teams that align with their gender identity.
Under HB 25, public school sports teams must use the sex listed on a student athlete’s birth certificate entered at the time or near the time of their birth, effectively blocking transgender players from being able to participate. The bill, led by Republican House Representative Valoree Swanson of Texas, passed by a 76 to 54 margin and is now heading to the upper house for a vote.
“The purpose of this Act is to further the governmental interest of ensuring that sufficient interscholastic athletic opportunities remain available for girls to remedy past discrimination on the basis of sex,” the bill states. “An interscholastic athletic team sponsored or authorized by a school district or open-enrollment charter school may not allow a student to compete in an interscholastic athletic competition sponsored or authorized by the district or school that is designated for the biological sex opposite to the student’s biological sex.”
Swanson and other lawmakers backed the bill using discriminatory and false claims that trans athletes have a competitive advantage over cis women in sports. The anti-LGBTQ politician added that she is “excited that we have the opportunity today to stand up for our daughters, our granddaughters, and all our Texas girls.”
The University Interscholastic League (UIL) oversees k-12 public school sports and determines gender based on the sex recorded on a student’s birth certificate, according to the UIL non-discrimination policies. In a 2017 press release, the UIL also said it recognized amended birth certificates, though it’s unclear if this policy will change if the bill becomes law.
As states in the nation continue to draft legislation restricting the rights of transgender individuals, LGBTQ advocates in Texas are firing back against these efforts. Ricardo Martinez, chief executive officer of the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Texas, condemned the bill as a “hateful” attack on transgender youth.
“Extremists in our Legislature have continuously leveraged cruel rhetoric and rampant misinformation to coordinate this attack on the transgender community — young children in particular — and have sent a clear message that Texas is not a safe place for them to live,” Martinez said in a written statement. “HB 25 singles out transgender children and permanently prohibits them from the foundational opportunities that sports provide children, like camaraderie with friends and learning lessons about teamwork, sportsmanship, and healthy exercise.”
Adri Perez, policy and advocacy strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas, said lawmakers in the state voted to “deliberately discriminate against transgender children.”
“Excluding transgender students from participating in sports with their peers violates the Constitution and puts already vulnerable youth at serious risk of mental and emotional harm,” Perez said in a written statement to Gay City News. “There is no evidence that transgender kids pose any threat.”
Perez added, “Trans kids and their families deserve our love and support — they’ve been fighting this legislation for months. Texans will hold lawmakers accountable for their cruelty.”
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