AUSTIN — As school-aged girls across the country face the threat of boys stealing their sports scholarships and opportunities, state representatives have chosen to reject a proposed law that would protect them.
On Tuesday—an important deadline in the final days of the legislative session— the Republican-controlled Texas House of Representatives killed Senate Bill 29, a proposed law that would have ensured male students would not be allowed to compete on designated female K-12 interscholastic athletic teams.
Lawmakers also stalled two other similar bills on the issue, ultimately destroying the whole effort.
The proposed laws came amid a growing wave of unjust policies across the country imperiling women’s athletic opportunities and scholarships.
The NCAA currently allows biological boys to intrude on girls’ sports and even threatened to move championship games away from Texas if state lawmakers chose to pass the bills to protect women.
There is also an increasing number of wrongful instances, such as those of Connecticut high school track and field athletes Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, and Alanna Smith, elite women runners who have missed out on regional and state athletic opportunities, college scouts, and potential scholarships because men were allowed to intrude in their sport. Two biological male students entered and dominated their field, winning 15 women’s track championships that were previously held by nine different girls.
“Title IX was designed to eliminate discrimination against women in education and athletics, and women fought long and hard to earn the equal athletic opportunities that Title IX provides,” said Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for the nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom. “Allowing boys to compete in girls’ sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women under this law. We shouldn’t force these young women to be spectators in their own sports.”
In the Texas Capitol, SB 29 had an eventful journey before ultimately being killed at the hands of Republican state representatives.
The bill initially passed the Senate in mid-April, but when it reached the House, Speaker Dade Phelan seemingly set up the proposed law to fail in the legislative process. Phelan is one of only three Texas House Republicans to receive a positive grade from Equality Texas, a pro-LGBT advocacy organization
The bill died, with Phelan’s appointed Democrat-run committee voting down the proposal in early May.
However, just a few days later, the committee’s Democrat chairman, State Rep. Harold Dutton (Houston), suddenly revived the legislation as a sort of retribution to Democrat members for killing some of his other bills.
Dutton’s committee approved SB 29 and sent it forward in the legislative process, though they did make a fatal change to the bill—instead of ensuring students compete on certain teams that match their biological sex at birth, the committee removed the last wording, only requiring a matching birth certificate.
That means a student could simply change their birth certificate if they wanted to compete on a team of the opposite sex.
The bill moved ahead to the Calendars Committee, where Republican State Rep. Dustin Burrows (Lubbock)—already facing intense controversy for blocking other critical GOP priorities—placed it toward the end of a long legislative calendar, right up against Tuesday’s deadline. The full House chamber never got to the bill.
Late last night, Equality Texas tweeted in celebration of SB 29’s demise, thanking their “allies who helped #ProtectTransKids and make this possible.” They included a picture of Speaker Phelan.
Though lawmakers have left women’s sports at risk for now, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called on Gov. Abbott on Wednesday to reconvene the Legislature in June to complete that and other priorities House Republicans have killed.
“Asking @GregAbbott_TX to call a June #SpecialSession today to pass #SB29 to save girls sports, #SB10 to end taxpayer funded lobbying and #SB12 to stop social media censorship,” Patrick tweeted. “The TxHouse killed these conservative bills that majority of Texans in both parties support.”
Concerned citizens may contact their state representatives or Gov. Abbott.