AUSTIN — The latest attempt to safeguard young women in Texas could be facing more turbulence in the state Capitol.

The Issue

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 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.

The Situation at the State Capitol

Now, the Texas House—currently in their third special legislative session because they chose not to complete priority work in all of their legislative time earlier this year—is again advancing the women’s athletic protections in the legislative process. (Notably, all of their current proposals, at the request of Gov. Greg Abbott, only defend high school girls and exclude college-aged women).

However, Democrat State Rep. Joe Moody (El Paso) may try to wreck the protections—and Republicans might let him.

Last week, the House’s Constitutional Rights and Remedies Committee met to consider one proposed women’s sports law (House Bill 25), and Moody offered the idea of doing a study on the bill to determine if the Legislature should continue allowing men to invade women’s athletic competitions. The “study” would essentially be tasking the leftist-controlled University of Texas to “analyze” the psychological and physical well-being and economic impacts of women’s sports safeguards.

“Rather than presume that you’re correct or presume that I’m correct, let’s go out there and figure out what the real facts are,” said Moody.

Moody’s Sleight of Hand

However, lawmakers often use “studies” as an excuse to not pass a law and kick an issue down the road. Rather than actually protect women’s athletics, they might just study the issue instead.

Moody said as much when State Rep. Matt Shaheen (R–Plano) pointed out that one of his ideas essentially deleted the law.

“I’m looking at this amendment, and it doesn’t look like it adds the study; it looks like it strikes the entire bill and replaces it with the study. So, I would appreciate some clarification,” said Shaheen.

“I had actually a couple different versions … ’cause I did have one that did that, too,” Moody replied, “but chose to not introduce that because I did not think … based on the testimony I heard and based on comments from members … that was one that would gain any traction here in committee.”

Moody ended up withdrawing his study amendment for the committee meeting, but he told his colleagues he would work on the plan and potentially bring it back later in the process. On top of that, Republican committee chairman State Rep. Trent Ashby (Lufkin) said he expects the bill’s author to “work diligently” with Moody on a study plan.

Will Republican Lawmakers Fold?

Though Moody’s amendment is withdrawn for now, his attempt signals cause for attention: Republicans, despite controlling both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s office, have continually surrendered their power to the Democrat minority and could do so again on this issue.

House Speaker Dade Phelan already allows Moody and other Democrats to hold powerful positions in the Legislature and block Republican priorities from becoming state law—such as the women’s sports protections.

“Girls deserve fair play. No girl should have to compete at a disadvantage to a biological male,” said Mary Elizabeth Castle, senior policy advisor for pro-family group Texas Values. “Women have worked too hard for an equal playing field in sports, and biological males should not take those opportunities away from them.”

As the state Legislature has only a week remaining in the current special session, concerned citizens may track the progress of the currently considered women’s sports proposals (similar House Bills 25 and 10, as well as Senate Bill 3) or contact their state representative.

Texas Scorecard will continue to follow this story.

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.