AUSTIN — Republican state lawmakers may again sabotage protections for women’s sports in Texas.
Currently, school-aged girls across the country face the threat of losing their sports scholarships and opportunities to boys pretending to be girls. The NCAA, the national association governing most college athletics, now allows biological men to intrude on women’s sports.
Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature could have approved multiple protections for women’s athletics to ensure male students would not be allowed to compete on designated women’s sports teams, but Republican legislators in the House of Representatives killed the effort. Texas Scorecard previously chronicled that story in detail.
On Monday, the Texas House—now in their third special legislative session because they chose not to complete priority work in all of their legislative time earlier this year—finally began moving proposed laws forward in the legislative process and again advanced the women’s athletic protections.
“[Texas public high schools] may not allow a student to compete in an interscholastic athletic competition sponsored or authorized by the district or school that is designated for the biological sex opposite to the student’s biological sex,” reads Senate Bill 3 (that bill has already passed the Texas Senate and is now moving forward in the House along with similar legislation, House Bills 10 and 25).
However, there is one glaring problem. Those proposals only apply to high schools and exclude college-aged women.
Indeed, in the current September/October special session, Republican state legislators have chosen to move forward with high-school-only protections, despite the fact that legislators such as State Sen. Charles Perry (R–Lubbock) and State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) have proposed laws to safeguard both high school and college women’s athletics (those bills are currently untouched and collecting dust).
Furthermore, Gov. Abbott, earlier this month in his special session announcement, wrote he only wanted “[women’s sports] legislation identical to Senate Bill 29 as passed by the Texas Senate in the 87th Legislature, ”meaning protections that only applied to high school girls.
Why exclude college young women? Of note, the NCAA earlier this year threatened to move championship games away from Texas if state lawmakers chose to pass safeguards for college women’s athletics.
Additionally, as relevant information, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan was one of only three Texas House Republicans to receive a positive grade from Equality Texas, a pro-LGBT advocacy organization that opposes the proposed safeguards.
“We absolutely should pass a bill to protect women’s sports at both levels,” State Rep. Slaton (R–Royse City) recently told Texas Scorecard. “If we fail to do this, it will be a bad mark on our legacy as legislators.”
“It’s crucial that colleges are included in any sports bill passed this session,” State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R–Fredericksburg) said during the Legislature’s August special session. “The Texas House must safeguard both women and girls.”
State lawmakers have roughly three weeks left in their current session, so concerned citizens may contact their state representatives, senators, or the governor.