Every other year, over 5,000 delegates gather at the Republican Party of Texas Convention to determine the party’s new legislative priorities for the upcoming legislative session. They begin with 15 possible priorities, as compiled by the legislative priorities committee, which are then whittled down to a final list of eight chosen by all the delegates.
One of the 15 possible priorities (although it didn’t make the final cut) was protecting women’s sports.
The proposal pledged to “Protect women’s opportunities, health, safety, and fair play in sports by banning biological men from competing in women’s collegiate athletics or any UIL events. Biological males may not use female bathrooms, locker rooms or hotel rooms while participating in school-sanctioned events.”
Last year, the Texas Legislature passed a bill to prohibit biological men from competing in girl’s athletic events at public schools. The bill—which only protects middle and high school students—was only passed during a special session after Gov. Greg Abbott specifically stipulated that the legislation should not extend to protecting college women.
Meanwhile, female collegiate athletes are losing scholarships and opportunities to biological men competing in women’s sports. The issue recently came to the forefront of the national consciousness when the NCAA crowned Lia Thomas—a biological male—as the women’s national swimming champion in the 500-yard freestyle. This sparked controversy and a discussion about whether biological men should be allowed to compete against biological women since men are physically stronger than women and therefore have a significant advantage.
Then last month, the Department of Education released new amendments to Title IX, the civil rights law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex in all schools which recieve federal funds. The amendments will expand the definition of “discrimination on the basis of sex” to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The proposed regulations state that “preventing someone from participating in school programs and activities consistent with their gender identity would cause harm in violation of Title IX.”
This new guidance explicitly permits biological males to compete against biological females in schools receiving federal funds—which most non-collegiate schools receive through free or discounted lunch programs.
Although protecting women’s sports will not be forgotten by the Texas GOP, it will not be afforded the same funding and attention that the eight legislative priorities will receive. Additionally, the federal government’s new regulations will be a significant hurdle in enacting any meaningful protections.