AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – After more than ten hours of debate, the Texas House passed a controversial bill Thursday night, Oct. 14, requiring transgender public school athletes to compete on teams that are the same as their birth gender, not as their gender identity.
Lawmakers passed House Bill 25 on the second and final readings by the same 76-54 margin.
School districts and open enrollment charter schools would have to look to the biological sex listed on the student’s birth certificate.
Republican Representative Valoree Swanson of Spring advocated for the legislation at the Capitol.
“I’m excited that we have the opportunity today to stand up for our daughters, granddaughters, and all our Texas girls.”
There are more than 800,000 7th through 12th grade athletes in public schools in Texas, including more than 300,000 girls.
Swanson said if transgender girls are allowed to compete with girls, they would have a competitive advantage. “It also makes it where they have absolutely no opportunity, they know that it’s already set, the results are already set before they even start.”
But opponents, including Representative Julie Johnson of Farmers Branch, said there is no problem in Texas with transgender athletes.
“How can you say that girls are being unfairly positioned in competition in the state of Texas such to justify this bill that there has not been a single complaint, not a single complaint to the UIL about transgendered athletes being able to compete?”
Johnson and others have said debate over this and similar bills for the past ten months has led to a sizable increase in phone calls by transgender students to a suicide hotline.
The Trevor Project said it received nearly 4,000 crisis contacts from transgender and nonbinary youth in Texas this year.
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman who advocates for others at the Dallas Resource Center, is among those watching debate over the bill about public school athletes.
“This legislature has been all about attacking children, I don’t understand it. I think it’s reprehensible. If you have a girl who’s respected as a girl, treated as a girl in all of her classrooms and by her friends and every other way until she steps on the playing field, when suddenly she’s treated like a boy, that’s not right.”
Lawmakers will have to hash out differences with the State Senate, which has already passed a similar bill, SB 3, during the third special session.
They must do so by Tuesday night, Oct. 19, when this special session is set to end.
McMurray believes if the bill becomes law, there will be lawsuits filed against the state.