87th LegislatureEducationHealthcareIssuesState HouseTexas House Passes ‘Save Girls’ Sports Act’ to Require Public School Athletes to Compete According to Biological Sex

The bill prohibits biological males from competing in girls’ sports even if they identify as transgender girls.
October 15, 2021
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Texas lawmakers are proceeding with a proposed law that would require athletes in the University Interscholastic League (UIL) — public school sports in Texas — to compete based on biological sex at birth. Dubbed the Save Girls’ Sports Act, House Bill (HB) 25 passed the Texas House by a vote of 76 to 54 on Thursday night after 11 hours of debate.

The next stop for HB 25 is the Texas Senate, where it will likely face a favorable reception from the chamber’s Republican majority and GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the legislative body.

A version of the bill advanced during the regular session failed after Republican leadership placed it near the end of the House’s daily agenda on the deadline to pass it. Democrats took advantage of the opportunity to kill the bill by making dilatory speeches and motions to run out the clock — a process known as “chubbing.”

Governor Greg Abbott had placed the item on the call for the first two special sessions. When he added it to the agenda for the third called session, Abbott specified that the language of the new proposal must be identical to Senate Bill (SB) 29, the version that was considered during the regular session.

HB 25 contains the caveat that girls are allowed to participate on a boys’ team if there is no equivalent for female athletes. The same exception, however, is not provided for boys. The bill is primarily designed to keep biological males from participating as transgender girls in public school sports.

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While state law allows individuals to change the gender on their birth certificates, HB 25 would require the use of the athlete’s gender on the original document.

Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring) celebrated the bill’s late-night victory after 22 amendments were considered, most of which failed.

“After a year of hard work, the Save Girls’ Sports Act finally got a vote in the Texas House and is one step closer to becoming law,” Swanson said in a press release.

“This bill will protect the right to fair competition in sports for our daughters and granddaughters, as was originally intended by Title IX. I have heard from moms and female athletes across Texas who are overwhelmingly supportive of this legislation, and I am excited to carry this legislation across the finish line on their behalf!”

Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Waxahachie), who recently defeated former GOP Rep. John Wray for the seat left vacant by Congressman Jake Ellzey, also touted the passage of the measure.

“Proud to have been a coauthor on Rep. Swanson’s bill #HB25 protecting girls’ sports across the state of Texas! It just passed the Texas State House after 11 hours of debate,” Harrison tweeted.

Among other objections, opponents generally claim that the mere consideration of such bills is a danger to the mental health of LGBT individuals and that it restricts the ability of parents to make the best choices for their children.

Interest groups such as Equality Texas, which advocates for LGBT causes, regard bills such as HB 25 as questioning the “humanity” of transgender individuals and characterize it as “cruelty.”

“Trans and [lesbian, gay, and bisexual] people do not deserve to live under constant threat and fear of their safety and well-being,” the organization wrote in a statement last week.

Whether a child should be allowed to identify with a gender inconsistent with their biological sex has been a sore point in Austin for most of this year.

Led by lawmakers such as Reps. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) and Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City), some have also advocated bills banning gender transition for children altogether. However, none of those proposals ended up on Abbott’s desk.

The Texas Department of Family Protective Services opined in August that gender modification surgeries on children constitute child abuse.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.