Texas Public Education Committee Passes Anti-Trans Sports Bill SB 29

by Wyatt Ronan

AUSTIN, TX — Today, despite previously stating that he did not plan to hold a vote on Senate Bill 29, an anti-LGBTQ bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, Chairman Harold Dutton, Jr. (D- Houston), called for a last-minute vote in the Texas House Public Education Committee. SB 29 passed the committee by an 8-5 vote. The bill which had already passed the Senate, now heads to the Calendars Committee for scheduling for a House floor vote. Governor Abbott has indicated that he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

During the Senate and House committee hearings on SB 29, testimony from opponents far outnumbered supporters, yet the committees passed the bill. Bills like this also go against Texans’ wishes: in a poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall, there was overwhelming support for transgender equality: 75% of Texans agreed that transgender people should be able to live freely and openly according to their gender identity.

Among the 41 states that have introduced a slate of discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ legislation this session, Texas has introduced the highest number of any state legislature - more than two dozen. This onslaught of bills is part of a fast and furious effort led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level.

There are so far more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country, and TOf the 250+ bills across the country, more than 127 directly target transgender people and about half of those (66+) would, like SB 29, ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.

Yet legislators in Texas and across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks on transgender youth, laying bare the reality that they are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact. Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident — in Texas or anywhere else.

Advancing this bill — knowing full well it harms Texas children — is unconscionable. Bills like SB 29 are opposed by educators, sports organizations, and medical professionals. Every session, Texas lawmakers recycle the same discriminatory playbook to generate fear, and every session, Texans across the state face the consequences. We saw this play out in 2017 when threats of the infamous anti-LGTBQ bathroom bill cost businesses important revenue and damaged the state’s reputation on a national scale.

Rebecca Marques, Human Rights Campaign Texas State Director

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

  • More than 95 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that has recently become law in Arkansas.
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

The NCAA opposes efforts to limit participation of transgender students

The NCAA Board of Governors released a public letter making clear that it “firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.” Moreover, “When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.” This puts the 30 states with discriminatory anti-transgender

A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — dangerous, anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

  • For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

A new PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states.

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

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