AUSTIN — As school-aged girls across the country face the threat of men stealing their sports scholarships and opportunities, state representatives have chosen to turn down a proposed law that would protect them.

On Tuesday, the Texas House Public Education Committee, chaired by State Rep. Harold Dutton Jr. (D–Houston), rejected Senate Bill 29, a proposed law that would ensure male students would not be allowed to compete on specific women’s K-12 interscholastic athletic teams.

The committee voted on party lines, with six Republicans approving, five Democrats rejecting, and committee chairman Dutton voting “present.” However, the bill needed 7 “yes” votes—the majority of the entire 13-member committee—to pass.

The swing vote, Republican State Rep. Dan Huberty (Kingwood), was not present for the vote, though he had previously indicated he would join Democrats in opposing the protections.

Despite lawmakers rejecting SB 29, which was approved by the Texas Senate in a party-line vote last month, House Republicans currently have two similar proposed laws. However, those are currently stalled in the legislative process.

The proposed laws come amid a growing wave of unjust policies across the country imperiling women’s athletic opportunities and scholarships.

The NCAA currently allows biological men to compete in girls’ sports and is even threatening to move championship games away from Texas if state lawmakers chose to pass the bills protecting 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 women.

“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.”

However, Democrat State Rep. James Talarico (Round Rock)—who joined his Democrat colleagues in opposing SB 29—called the protections for women “cynical” and “craven.” He voted to allow male athletes to intrude in women’s sports.

“[SB 29 is] still tarnishing our state’s reputation with people and businesses around the country, around the world. … If we vote for this bill, I fear it’ll be a stain that we can’t remove,” said Talarico.

More than 30 states are considering similar laws to protect women. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently said he would sign it into law if the state Legislature approved a bill, but they are running out of time.

State lawmakers have only 26 days left in their legislative session, and concerned citizens may contact their state representatives.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.