They finally found a path to pass it. They sure put plenty of energy into it.
A Texas bill prohibiting transgender student athletes from joining school sports teams aligned with their gender identity is heading to the full Texas House, where it is likely to pass, following a House committee’s approval Wednesday.
After more than eight hours of emotional testimony, the House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies voted 8-4 along party lines to advance House Bill 25. The legislation, authored by state Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, would restrict student athletes at public schools to playing on sports teams that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificate at or near their time of birth.
Lawmakers’ attempts to enshrine such restrictions into law have failed three previous times this year. But Wednesday’s committee vote helped the legislation clear a key hurdle that increases its likelihood of becoming law this time.
During multiple legislative sessions this year, the Texas Legislature has introduced other bills targeting transgender youth, such as legislation that would limit gender-affirming care for children and classifying the care as child abuse.
The legislation advanced Wednesday is similar to Senate Bill 3, which passed in the Senate. But the upper chamber’s bill was assigned to the House Public Education Committee, in which legislators have yet to hold a hearing on the bill.
During the regular legislative session, that education committee passed legislation targeting transgender youth participation in sports, but it died in the full House after it failed to meet a key deadline. In a subsequent special session, a Democratic walkout prevented the House from even taking up legislation. And during the second special session, state Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, chair of the House Public Education Committee, blocked legislation from moving to the House floor.
With HB 25 advanced by the Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies, it now heads to the full chamber. House Speaker Dade Phelan has said that the House would have enough votes to pass the legislation. More than half of House members have signed on as coauthors of similar legislation introduced in previous sessions. If the bill passes the lower chamber, it will then head to the Senate, which is likely to approve it.
Business leaders have also been critical of anti-LGBTQ legislation. René Lara, legislative director for Texas AFL-CIO, testified against HB 25, saying the legislature is not prioritizing more important matters such as labor shortage complaints stemming from the pandemic.
Texas Competes, a coalition of almost 1,500 business organizations, re-released an open letter this week saying that it was against legislation that targets the LGBTQ community. About 70 major employers signed on to the letter, including Amazon, Dell Technologies and Microsoft.
Jessica Shortall, managing director of Texas Competes, said some companies are concerned that legislation targeting LGBTQ Texans presents the state as unwelcoming to potential residents.
“We have folks that are really concerned about young talent — millennial and zoomer talent — who [are] overwhelmingly supportive, much more even than their older peers, of LGBTQ people,” Shortall said in an interview.
See here for the last update, and here for a long Twitter thread by Jessica Shortall, who was at the hearing. I’m old enough to remember when the NCAA threatened to pull sporting events from states like Texas that passed anti-trans legislation. I hope they can remember that far back, too. In the meantime, I don’t see anything that will stop this from passing. My heart is with all the children and their families who are being harmed by this legislative malevolence. The Chron has more.