Texas Republicans to Ban Transgender Student Athletes From Playing Sports

Earlier today, Texas lawmakers attempted to pass a bill barring transgender athletes from competing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

Currently, eight states have restrictive laws on the books, or executive orders, banning trans kids from competing with cisgender classmates in school sports: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

Legal challenges are underway in Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, and West Virginia. So far, only Arkansas passed a law restricting transgender health care and that has been blocked by a federal judge.

The bill before the special session is Texas House Bill 24 and it was introduced on Sept. 9 by former Baptist minister Rep. Bryan Slaton of East Texas. It would restrict participation in interscholastic teams beginning in kindergarten.

Children and teenage athletes could only play sports that correspond with their sex assigned at birth or listed on their official birth certificate issued at or near the time of their birth.

Supporters of the legislation say it would protect female athletes and maintain fairness in student athletics.

Critics say anti-transgender legislation discriminates against transgender Texas children. This legislation hurts their mental health, LGBTQ advocates say.

Equality Texas, the state’s top LGBTQ rights organization, noted that there have been more than 60 bills seeking to rescind, repeal, or weaken existing rights or protections for LGBTQ people introduced at various times throughout the year, making 2021 the most anti-LGBTQ year in Texas legislative history.

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“Every time these politicians have renewed their push for anti-transgender legislation, I have thought about Leon, a 9-year-old trans boy whose family had to leave Texas because they felt unsafe, or Libby, who has been coming to the Capitol for five years to ask legislators to stop attacking her,” Ricardo Martinez, the CEO of Equality Texas, said in a statement.

“Throughout all three special sessions, the Governor has asked legislators to pass legislation that would exclude transgender youth from normal school activities, in this case, K-12 sports,” Rachel Hill, community outreach and engagement manager of Equality Texas, told The Daily Beast.

“No child deserves to be excluded from their peers. It’s especially out-of-touch to debate who is allowed to play sports while schools across the state are shutting down everything—including school sports—to cope with the spike in COVID-19 cases.”

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