A new Texas law prohibits transgender student athletes from competing on school sports teams that match their gender identity. House Bill 25 is one of several laws that went into effect Tuesday, months after the Texas Legislature approved the measures in a third special legislative session last year.
The controversial measure, championed by Republican leaders in the state, applies to sports programs sponsored or authorized by a school district or charter school that participate in the University Interscholastic League. According to the bill, a student must compete on sports teams that match the gender listed on their birth certificate “listed at or about the time the student was born.”
Gov. Greg Abbott added the issue to the agenda for the third special legislative session amid public pressure from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other Republican colleagues, who argued the law was necessary to defend the equal sporting opportunities for women under Title IX federal civil rights legislation.
“The purpose of this law is to further the government’s interest in ensuring that sufficient interscholastic athletic opportunities remain available to girls in order to remedy past gender-based discrimination,” reads the sponsored bill. by State Representative Valoree Swanson, a Republican from Spring, Texas.
Opponents of the legislation continue to reject claims that the law is necessary to protect women’s sport. Jaime Puentes, education and policy analyst for the progressive nonprofit Every Texan, says the measure could actually negatively affect cisgender women and girls.
“There will very well be non-trans girls who might be more muscular or might have what some people might consider to be more masculine traits. [who] are subject to proof whether or not they are a girl or a boy,” Puentes said.
He added that the effect of the law will not only impact the mental health and well-being of transgender students, but will also reinforce intolerance towards the transgender community in general.
“By preventing trans kids from playing in interscholastic sports, the state is preventing young cisgender Texans from knowing more about their peers. We’re recreating those cycles of discrimination,” Puentes said.
HB 25 allows exceptions for women to participate in men’s interscholastic athletic programs, if a corresponding program is not offered or available.
Five more bills take effect Tuesday after passing Texas’ third special legislative session.
House Bill 1, Senate Bill 4 and Senate Bill 6, codify new political boundaries for the Texas House, Texas Senate, and maps of congressional districts redrawn by state lawmakers following the 2020 census. Multiple lawsuits challenge the new maps.
Senate Bill 5 makes illegal possession of dogs a criminal offence. Legislation states that owners can only tie a dog outside if they have adequate shelter, away from direct sunlight and water to drink. The bill also prohibits the use of chains or weighted restraints on animals. Governor Abbott vetoed similar legislation passed in last year’s regular legislative session, citing concerns about government overreach and excessive penalties for pet owners.
Senate Bill 52 provides funds for a variety of higher education construction projects across the state.
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