Texas LGBTQ Activists Oppose Renewed Bills Banning Transgender Students From Playing Sports That Match Their Gender Identity


AUSTIN (KXAN) – A Texas Senate committee will meet Monday morning to revive efforts to prevent transgender student-athletes from participating in sports that match their gender identities.

The Senate Committee on Health and Social Services hold a hearing at 10 a.m. discuss Senate Bill 2 and Senate Bill 32, which reflect legislation that was not adopted during the ordinary session. The bills would require state schools, colleges and universities in Texas “not to allow a student to participate in an interschool athletic competition sponsored or licensed by the designated district or school for the biological sex opposite to the biological sex. of the student “.

Gov. Greg Abbott has revived the proposed restrictions on transgender students by including them among his 11 items on the Special Legislative Session’s agenda. Republican state lawmakers across the country have pushed for similar restrictions this year, so the governor’s decision allows Texas to do the same. However, LGBTQ rights groups are already banding together to make sure this doesn’t happen during the 30-day window for the special session.

Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, explained how it had “incredibly disappointed” him to see the ban on transgender student-athletes among the priorities named by the governor.

“Immediately after hearing about it, the first thing I thought about was the kids,” Martinez told KXAN. “The children I have met and with whom I have spent a lot of time who are distraught and who suffer the harmful effects of having to defend their personality, their humanity on Capitol Hill and knowing that each time a bill is presented to exclude transgender people from certain aspects of daily life, whether it is a bathroom or a sports team. The message is loud and clear that it is acceptable to debate humanity and the dignity of transgender people, and transgender people deserve much better.

GOP lawmakers have previously said legislation is needed to ensure fairness in athletics. Senator Charles Perry, a Republican from Lubbock, drafted the bills and did not respond to a request for comment on their reintroduction during the special session.

Democrats and LGBTQ advocacy groups argue the bills address a problem that does not exist in the state. When asked why he thinks lawmakers are reverting this legislation, Martinez said lawmakers could use it as a ‘wedge issue’ intended to garner support from Republican primary voters ahead of next year’s election. .

“If this is true then it is incredibly disheartening that our children are being used as political football without worrying, again, about the adverse effects that will result,” Martinez said.

The Trevor Project, which focuses on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth, released a mental health survey this year who specifically asked nearly 35,000 young people how recent policy has affected their mental health. The results showed that almost all respondents – 94% of them – said it “negatively affects” their mental well-being. LGBTQ youth also shared in the survey that 42% of them have seriously considered suicide in the past year, including more than half of youth who identify as transgender or non-binary.

Martinez said the revival of this legislation is prompting at least one family he knows to take drastic action.

“There is a family that is considering leaving [the state] because they can’t take it, ”he said. “They don’t trust Texas to keep their families safe. Their well-being and safety are in jeopardy, so they consider moving to Maryland due to the disastrous effects it has had on their son. ”

Martinez said his organization was working with others, including the Transgender Education Network of Texas, to coordinate the return to legislation that is only just beginning to gain traction.

“We are once again mobilizing all of our allies and LGBTQ people here in Texas and continuing the hard work of our organization and partner organizations to ensure that our voices are heard and raised and that we hold people accountable,” said Martinez, “ once again mobilizing our community in the hope that we can stop these bills. ”

In June, the US Department of Education broadened its interpretation of federal sexual protections to include transgender and gay students, a move that reverses Trump-era politics and opposes proposals by many states to ban students. transgender girls school sports. In a new policy directive, the ministry said that discrimination based on a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity would be treated as a violation of Title IX, the federal law of 1972 which protects against sex discrimination in education.

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