NCAA targets Texas with latest statement against transgender discrimination

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On Monday, the NCAA issued a statement affirming it would not hold championships in states that discriminate against transgender athletes in collegiate sports. The proclamation should serve as a warning to Texas, which is on the verge of passing several pieces of anti-trans legislation.

The statement from the Board of Governors of the NCAA does not mention any particular state, though Texas is at the forefront of states attempting to pass legislation that would target the transgender community.  

“When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected. We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants,” said the NCAA Board of Governors.  

In the current Texas legislature, six bills have been filed that target transgender student athletes. Two of those bills specifically impact college athletics.

Overall, the Republican-led Texas legislature is mounting an aggressive agenda against the transgender community. On Monday, the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee began considering SB 1646, which would make it illegal for guardians or medical professionals to “consent or administer transition-related care to children.”

Another bill that was heard in front of the Senate State Affairs Committee was SB 29, a legislative priority for Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. SB 29 would essentially ban transgender students from participating in a sports league consistent with their identity. The bill also stipulates that the University Scholastic League and Texas school districts would determine “biological sex.”

On Wednesday, SB 29 was introduced to the full Texas State Senate by State Sen. Charles Perry. State Sen. John Whitmire pushed back on the bill, and an amendment that Perry introduced that would allow any government record to be used as a substitute for a birth certificate for student athletes. 

Whitmire cited the NCAA’s recent statement, and stipulated that “transgender children just wanted to be treated as equal.” He also referenced the failed 2017 bathroom bill, noting that the “world did not end” when it did not pass. 

On Wednesday afternoon, SB 29 advanced in the state senate. Rebecca Marques, Texas State Director for the Human Rights Campaign, released a statement after the 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. 

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. At the Texas State Capitol, members of Equality Texas, the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, as well as transgender athletes and their parents have been providing in-person testimony to denounce these bills.

If the NCAA does determine that Texas is ineligible for hosting championships, that could turn costly for the state. In 2022, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is slated to have several games in both San Antonio and Fort Worth.

The Baylor men’s basketball team, which won the NCAA tournament this month, recently visited the Texas State Capitol. Should the NCAA decide that it will not host college championships in Texas, it would be another chapter in the fight between Texas Republicans and sports.   

Photo: Robert Duval Photography/ Wikimedia Commons

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