Texas Senate bill restricting transgender student athletes fails to clear House committee

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas House committee failed to advance a Senate bill Tuesday that would ban transgender students from competing on sports teams corresponding to their gender identity.

Members of the House public education committee voted down Senate Bill 29 at the conclusion of their hearing Tuesday. The proposal, which passed the Senate last month, stated a student could not participate in a sport “that is designated for the biological sex opposite to the student’s biological sex as determined at the student’s birth and correctly stated on the student’s official birth certificate.”

The Senate’s version of the bill would also require students to show their original, unchanged birth certificate to prove their “biological sex.”

Ahead of the committee’s vote Tuesday, State Rep. James Talarico, a Democrat from Round Rock, urged his fellow lawmakers to oppose moving the legislation forward.

“Every witness during this hearing, including the bill author, could not name a single documented case of a trans athlete causing a problem on a sports team in Texas — not a single one. This is a manufactured problem,” Talarico said.

“There’s no other purpose to this bill than to hurt kids, and I didn’t come here to hurt kids. And I don’t think any of you came here to hurt kids,” he added. “If we vote for this bill, I fear it will be a stain we can’t remove.”

The bill’s opponents welcomed news of the House committee’s decision.

“We thank the members of the House Public Education committee for their votes today against SB 29, but still do not understand why some in the legislature would go out of their way to hurt anyone’s kids?” Zeph Capo, the president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, said Tuesday. “We did the right thing today for all the children of Texas by standing up for trans kids.”

When the bill initially passed the Senate, supporters said the legislation would promote fairness in K-12 sports. At that time, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wrote in a statement, “Senate Bill 29 ensures that biologically born men and boys will not be allowed to compete against women and girls in individual and team sports or for sports scholarships.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) warned states that passing these kinds of bills could factor into where its leaders choose to hold college championships.

Despite this pushback, Texas legislators are still considering a number of other bills that would block access to gender-affirming health care for transgender youth.

The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group, held a news conference Tuesday afternoon at the Texas Capitol to show support for transgender Texans and oppose legislation targeting them.

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