All student athletes in Texas public schools would be required to compete on teams that match their sex assigned at birth, under a bill that cleared the state House on Thursday.
House Bill 25, which was approved in a party-line 76–54 vote, would restrict public school students to playing on sports teams matching the biological sex listed on their birth certificates received at or near the time of their birth. It now heads to the state Senate, where it is expected to pass.
The text of the bill says it is intended to ensure that “sufficient interscholastic athletic opportunities remain available for girls to remedy past discrimination on the basis of sex.”
“The bill I’m bringing before you today protects girls’ safety and their right to equal access to athletic opportunities,” state Rep. Valoree Swanson, the Republican who introduced the bill, said on the House floor. “This is a right guaranteed to our girls under Title IX.”
The current version of the bill allows legally modified birth certificates to be accepted, but only if the changes were made to correct “scrivener or clerical error,” according to the bill’s text.
State Rep. Mary E. González, a Democrat who chairs the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus, argued that the measure could cause mental harm to transgender students.
“If you care about mental health, and I know you do, then do this simple thing and not advance this piece of harmful legislation,” González said. “We actually also know that this is a nonissue, that there is no issue with transgender and intersex students playing sports.”
House Bill 25 also faced criticism from pro-transgender advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which called the bill “cruel” and “unconstitutional.” It also alleged the bill would “deny transgender youth the right to play sports,” although the bill allows any student to play on sports teams that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates.
Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he would sign into law Senate Bill 29 if it cleared the state legislature. The bill, the language of which was identical to that of House Bill 25, was killed by House Democrats who avoided debating it until it missed a midnight deadline.
“For five years the University Interscholastic League (UIL) in Texas has had a rule in place prohibiting boys from playing girls in girls’ sports,” Abbott said at that time on Fox News Town Hall with several other Republican governors. “But the Texas Legislature is working on a bill to codify that, which I will sign.”