AUSTIN — Amid threats to young women’s athletics across the country, Republican state representatives have decided to protect some girls in Texas—but not all of them.
Currently, school-age girls across the country face the risk 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 college women’s sports.
On Thursday night, after months of political games and a long day of debate, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives finally gave their approval to House Bill 25, a proposed law to ensure high school male students would not be allowed to compete on designated female sports teams. They approved the law by a vote of 76-54.
“[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 HB 25.
“The bill I’m bringing before you today protects girls’ safety and their right to equal access to athletic opportunities,” said the bill’s author, State Rep. Valoree Swanson (R–Spring), introducing the bill. “This is a right guaranteed to our girls under Title IX, which Congress passed 50 years ago in a major victory for women. We fought for this right, and now we have to defend it.”
Swanson also noted that as of this year, nine states have passed legislation “that protected safety and opportunities for girls and women in sports.”
However, the Texas House’s bill has one glaring problem: The protections don’t apply to college women’s athletics.
Indeed, in the current September/October special session, Republican state legislators in both the House and Senate have chosen to only defend high school girls, despite the fact that legislators such as State Sen. Charles Perry (R–Lubbock) and State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) proposed laws to safeguard both high school and college women’s athletics. (Those bills are currently untouched and collecting dust.)
Furthermore, in his special session announcement earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott 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-age 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 sports.
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 for women.
Thursday’s House vote occurred after the Republican-controlled House killed similar women’s sports protections in their regular session earlier this year. Texas Scorecard previously chronicled that story in detail.
The bill will now head to the Senate for approval, at which point it will end up on the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
The Legislature has less than a week remaining in their current special legislative session. Concerned citizens may contact their representatives.