According to Equality Texas, 30 anti-LGBTQ bills were filed this legislative session, an increase over 50 percent from the last session in 2019. And now, an anti-trans sports bill that was a legislative priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, is now set for the major state calendar on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 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.”
A few weeks ago SB 29 appeared legislatively dead. However, in the Texas legislature bad bills have a way of coming back to life. With SB 29, the bill was revived by a Democrat: State Rep. Harold Dutton. The Chair of the Public Education Committee, Dutton admitted that he was bringing back SB 29 as “retaliation” for the committee killing a bill he authored, House Bill 3270, that would have allowed greater state control over Houston ISD.
Dutton received considerable backlash for his actions, and it seems all but certain he will face a primary challenge next year. In an article in the Texas Tribune, State Rep. Diego Bernal, who is also on the Public Education Committee, criticized Dutton for his stunt. “I thought having a chair that was a Democrat meant that things would be more accelerated and more progressive. I was wrong,” said Bernal.
On Twitter, the Harris County Democratic Party posted that they opposed and condemned Dutton’s actions with reviving SB 29. “His actions are childish and harmful and completely unacceptable,” they wrote.
On Sunday, activists and allies were at the Texas Capitol for Trans Youth Advocacy Day. Several democratic state representatives met with members of the LGBTQ+ community, and affirmed their support of trans Texans while denouncing legislation like SB 29. State Rep. Michelle Beckley posted photos of a rally outside the Capitol, and in her office with a trans flag. She also described SB 29 as a “solution in search of a problem.”
After it was announced, SB 29 was met with widespread disapproval from the business community in Texas and around the nation. The NCAA released a statement affirming they would not hold college championships in states that discriminate against transgender athletes. In 2022, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is slated to have several games in both San Antonio and Fort Worth.
For State Rep. Sheryl Cole, SB 29 is essentially “just another bathroom bill to score political points.” In 2017, Texas Republicans attempted to pass a bathroom bill. The legislation ultimately failed after it was widely condemned. In touting her opposition to SB 29, Cole also pledged for a “floor fight” on Tuesday.