Anti-trans sports bill revived in house committee

Senate Bill 29, which many had assumed died a few days ago, was revived in the Public Education Committee where it passed 8-5, and now heads to the state house.

SB 29, a legislative priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, would essentially ban transgender students from participating in a sports league consistent with their identity. The legislation also stipulates that the University Scholastic League and Texas school districts would determine “biological sex.”

State Rep. Harold Dutton, a Democrat and the Chair of the Public Education Committee, reportedly admitted that he was bringing back SB 29 as “retaliation” for Democrats killing a bill Dutton authored through procedural moves, House Bill 3270, that would have allowed greater state control over Houston ISD.  

When asked about how many kids SB 29 would impact, Dutton allegedly said he “did not know.” SB 29 passed through the Senate last month. Rebecca Marques, Texas State Director for the Human Rights Campaign, released a statement after the Senate passage.

“This bill is opposed by educators, sports organizations and medical professionals. Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason any state would need a ban on transgender participation in sports at the K-12 level,” said Marques. 

After it was announced, SB 29 was met with widespread disapproval from the business community in Texas and around the nation. The NCAA also released a statement affirming they would not hold college championships in states that discriminate against transgender athletes. Following the NCAA’s announcement, Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez spoke with Texas Signal about the unpopularity of SB 29 with the business community.

“As with every session, we know business leaders hope that these unnecessary and harmful policies will not be advanced, especially when there are so many urgent priorities facing the state, from grid stability to rural broadband to pandemic recovery to continued investments in public education. If these measures do continue to advance, I expect we will see business and tourism voices get louder, as they have done every session for years now,” said Martinez.

If SB 29 does ultimately become law, Texas will likely face steep financial losses. The NCAA men’s tournament has multiple games scheduled in 2022 in Fort Worth and San Antonio, as well as a slew of other championship games in the state.  

Kai Shappley, who testified poignantly against several other anti-trans bills in the state senate last month, reacted to the news about the bill’s resurrection in the Public Education committee with a red-faced angry emoji.

Shappley, a 10-year-old from Austin, garnered national attention for her heartfelt speech at the Texas Senate. “It makes me said that some politicians use trans kids like me to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist,” said Shappley in her testimony.

According to Equality Texas, there have been 30 anti-LGBTQ bills filed this legislative session, an increase over 50 percent from the last session in 2019.

Photo: Larry D. Moore / Wikimedia Commons

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