Controversial transgender sports bill passes in Texas House

Southwest

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — A controversial bill that would require Texas public school student athletes to play sports based on their biological sex at birth passed on the House floor Thursday night. The amended legislation will now head to the Senate.

Similar legislation has already died three times this year, but the second reading and debate for the full House is a hurdle it hadn’t reached yet. Texas Values celebrated that as a victory earlier this week.

“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 have been pushing 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 (the University Interscholastic League) also that they’re getting more and more calls with concerns about changes in birth certificates and males competing in female sports,” Castle said.

But Democrats are pushing back, and point to zero complaints filed with the UIL about specific 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 say it’s leading to harm already.

“Because the Texas Legislature has been pursuing these bills, (a) 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) asked 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) said as she defended the bill.

Swanson added that nine other states have already passed similar legislation.

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