The Republican-backed bill barring transgender student-athletes from joining school sports teams aligned with their gender identity appears to be headed for a full vote at the Texas House, where it is likely to pass.
A House committee on Wednesday approved the controversial measure, following what the Texas Tribune called “eight hours of moving testimony.” The vote for the House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies was 8-4 by party, according to the Trib.
House Speaker Dade Phelan said the measure, House Bill 25, had enough votes to pass in the GOP-controlled chamber. Similar legislation has already been passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Senate, and Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign such a ban into law.
The Texas legislature has failed three times this year to pass a bill requiring transgender athletes to play on teams that match their sex assigned at birth, arguing they want to protect cisgender athletes.
However, parents, student-athletes and medical professionals have repeatedly testified that the proposals are cruel and unnecessary. Many have expressed concern that the legislation and its protracted debate are damaging the mental health of transgender children.
In an emailed statement, the ACLU of Texas said the House legislation defies medical science while not solving any problems.
“The youth anti-trans sports ban exists for one purpose only: to erase and exclude transgender people from all aspects of public life,” said Adri Perez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas.
“This cruel bill targets an already vulnerable population, who simply want to participate in school athletics as authentic. Lawmakers insist on attacking children and forcing trans youth to fight for their own relevance by testifying on Capitol Hill – when they should just be kids enjoying school.
Other groups have criticized the bill as an attempt by the Texas GOP to throw red meat at the grassroots while ignoring pressing issues such as the root causes of the February winter blackouts that made up at 700 dead.
“This is yet another example of how Governor Abbott and Texas Republicans are using special sessions to advance their inhumane agenda – while actively ignoring the needs of their constituents, Texas’ vulnerable power grid, and the effects devastating effects of COVID-19 on our state,” said Carisa Lopez, political director of the progressive group Texas Freedom Network.
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