Texas House Passes Legislation Targeting Trans Student Athletes
The bill passed 76-54 after 10 hours of debate, unlike three similar pieces of legislation that failed earlier this year in the House. HB25 now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.
HB25, authored by Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, requires that students adhere to the teams aligned with their assigned sex, as determined by their birth certificate. The University Interscholastic League, the governing body of Texas public school sports, already determines athletes' gender by birth certificate but accepts certificates that were modified after birth to align with a child's gender identity.
HB25 specifies the birth certificate in question must be the one issued at or near the time of a student's birth. Proponents say this requirement is necessary because of an increasing number of Texans petitioning to amend their birth certificates, while opponents say this number is too small to build policy on.
The Texas House voted Thursday to approve House Bill 25 (HB25), restricting the ability of transgender students to compete on public school sports teams aligned with their gender identity.
"Transgender children participating in sports is not a national emergency or a Texas emergency. These attacks on trans kids and the ongoing trauma to the trans community certainly are. This is unconscionable," Ricardo Martinez, head of advocacy group Equality Texas, told the Austin-American Statesman.
Swanson and other supporters cite Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in schools on the basis of sex, as grounds for HB25, claiming trans girls competing in girls' sports would put cisgender girls at a disadvantage, potentially infringing on scholarship opportunities. However, the legislation is largely prophylactic, as proponents could present little to no evidence that such disadvantages have actually occurred.
"Our constituents expect us to see problems that are coming, and not wait till there's a disaster, till everything falls apart and try to fix it," Swanson said. "We don't have to wait till it's a big problem in Texas."
The U.S. Department of Education released a statement in June that the protections of Title IX also extend to cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Several amendments to HB25 were proposed and failed, including delegating decisions about student participation to school boards, limiting the rule to individual sports and only applying the rule to schools with a licensed professional counselor on staff. One amendment that did pass 121-8 was that proposed by Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, ensuring the legislation complies "with state and federal law regarding the confidentiality of student medical information."
Several states have passed similar legislation this year, including Alabama, Florida, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia.