AUSTIN — As school-aged girls across the country face the threat of men stealing their sports scholarships and opportunities, one of Texas’ top state officials has been obstructing proposed laws to protect young women’s athletics.

In the Texas House, there are currently two proposed laws to stop male competitors from intruding on women’s sports teams.

House Bill 4042 would ensure male students would not be allowed to compete on specific women’s K-12 interscholastic athletic teams, while a similar bill, House Bill 1458, would clearly define school athletic teams—including higher education—as “only students of the same biological sex; or students of both biological sexes.”

“A biologically male student may not participate in an athletic team … that is designated for participation by only biologically female students,” reads HB 1458.

However, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan has thus far set up the proposed laws to fail in the legislative process.

Regarding HB 1458, Phelan sent the proposal to his appointed House State Affairs Committee—where his appointed chairman, State Rep. Chris Paddie (R–Marshall), has done nothing on the bill for nearly two months despite citizen lobbying.

Phelan sent HB 4042 to his appointed House Public Education Committee—where his appointed chairman, Democrat State Rep. Harold Dutton (Houston), hosted a hearing but thus far has not allowed a committee vote on the bill.

“That bill is probably not going to make it out of committee,” Dutton told Hearst Newspapers this week. “We just don’t have the votes for it. … But I promised the author that I’d give him a hearing, and we did.”

“I believe this bill is critically important to protect fair play in women’s sports,” said HB 4042’s author, State Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant). “I appreciate Chairman Dutton giving this bill a hearing and believe it deserves an up- or downvote.”

Phelan also appointed the members of that committee—six Democrats and seven Republicans—with one of the Republicans, State Rep. Dan Huberty (Kingwood), already indicating he will join Democrats in voting against the protections for women’s sports.

Furthermore, the Texas Senate actually passed their identical companion version of the bill, but Phelan then sent that to Dutton’s public education committee as well.

As additional background, Phelan was one of only three Texas House Republicans to receive a positive grade from Equality Texas, a pro-LGBT advocacy organization.

The proposed laws come amid a growing wave of policies and stories across the country imperiling women’s athletic opportunities and even 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 a growing number of unjust instances, such as 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.

Mitchell lost state championship titles to a male athlete four times.

“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.”

“It is a physiological fact that men and women are built differently,” reads an ADF article. “Men have more muscle mass, larger hearts, and greater bone density.”

“Simply reducing hormone levels—the prescription most sports have adopted—does not solve the problem,” said tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who wrote that a biological man competing as a woman is “insane” and “cheating.”

“A man builds up muscle and bone density, as well as a created number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, from childhood. Training increases the discrepancy.”

“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field,” concluded Holcomb. “Forcing female athletes to compete against boys is grossly unfair and destroys their athletic opportunities.”

More than 30 states are considering similar laws, but the Texas Legislature is running out of time in its legislative session, with only 37 days left to consider and pass new laws.

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.

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