AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A controversial bill that would require Texas public school student athletes to play sports based on their biological sex at birth passed in the Senate Friday night and will now head to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk where it can be signed into law.
The bill passed through the House Thursday night.
Similar legislation had already died three times this year, but the second reading and debate for the full House is a hurdle it didn’t reach yet until earlier this week. Texas Values celebrated that as a victory.
“Right here with me I have 22,000 pieces of paper. And those 22,000 pieces of paper only represent a fraction of emails that have been sent to the Texas House and Texas Senate in support of this legislation that will protect female sports,” Mary Elizabeth Castle with Texas Values said outside the House chambers Wednesday.
Supporters of House Bill 25 pushed House leadership to get the bill to the finish line for months now. This session, the Senate companion already passed swiftly through the other chamber, as it had in sessions past.
“We’ve heard from UIL also that they’re getting more and more calls with concerns about changes in birth certificates and males competing in female sports,” Castle said.
Democrats pushed back, and pointed to zero complaints about specific athletes filed with the UIL of transgender athletes competing in women’s sports. Additionally, the UIL previously testified it does not have a way of tracking how many transgender athletes are currently participating in sports across Texas.
They call the bill a solution in search of a problem and explain it’s leading to harm already.
“Because the Texas Legislature has been pursuing these bills, 150% increase in suicide has occurred in the LGBTQ community, predominantly of transgendered kids, because their government does not care about them,” State Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Farmers Branch) said during the debate Thursday.
“We are here to protect children; we do know that this bill does create harm to some children. So when we say ‘we don’t want to create harm,’ do we mean all kids or just some kids?” State Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint) said Thursday.
The bill’s Republican author said she cares about the mental health of all Texas children, though.
“It affects all 332,000 girls, currently playing UIL sports in Texas,” State Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring) defended the bill.
Swanson added nine other states have already passed similar legislation.