South Texas Pride Q&A: Statewide advocacy organization fights against anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the Legislature

House Bill 25 headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk after Texas House accepted Senate amendments

Advocates for the LGBTQ+ community say they are fighting to keep transgender children from losing their ability to participate in sports at school and fighting a number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the Texas Legislature.

SAN ANTONIOUPDATE 10/18/21: Since publishing this story, House Bill 25, which would restrict transgender student-athletes from playing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity, is now headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

The Texas House accepted the bill’s Senate amendments in a vote of 76-61 on Sunday afternoon. Click here to learn more.

Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez issued the following statement Sunday:

“This cruel and grotesque ban puts a target on the backs of transgender children and adults, erases intersex people and sends a clear message that transgender and intersex people aren’t welcome or safe in Texas. Instead of heeding the community outcry against the bill and listening to the powerful testimony of trans kids and adults, families and advocates, Texas lawmakers willingly ignored the unequivocal evidence of the harm this bill (and bills like it) has already caused. Throughout four traumatizing legislative sessions, we’ve seen increased requests for help from families facing anti-LGBTQ+ threats as a result of this hostile climate. The ‘debate’ over this anti-transgender bill is already exacerbating intolerance, fueling discrimination, and solidifying Texas’ reputation as the leading state for violence against trans people. Lawmakers who supported this bill will have to live with its legacy and future impact on our communities.”

(Original Story)

Advocates for the LGBTQ+ community say they are fighting to keep transgender children from losing their ability to participate in sports at school and fighting a number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the Texas Legislature.

On Wednesday night, the Texas House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies voted 8-4 along party lines to advance House Bill 25, which would prohibit transgender athletes from joining sports teams that align with their gender identities.

Equality Texas, an LGBTQ+ political advocacy organization, tweeted that the vote happened after hours of emotional testimony from trans youths and their parents.

The House bill, similar to state Senate Bill 3 that passed in the Senate on Sept. 22, would not allow transgender student-athletes at public schools to play on teams that do not correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificate issued at or near the time of their birth.

Equality Texas told KSAT on Wednesday night that the bill would head to the Calendars Committee, which would schedule it for the House floor.

LEARN MORE: Texas bill limiting transgender student athletes’ sports participation clears key hurdle on way to becoming law

Rachel Hill, community outreach and engagement manager for Equality Texas, says these aren’t the only bills they’re monitoring.

“They are part of a huge string of anti-transgender bills that have been sweeping across the country. We have seen this, especially in Texas, with over 50 anti-transgender youth bills filed this year alone,” Hill said.

Hill says these bills go beyond sports and affect the students’ quality of life.

“What this legislation really does is it says that those in power are going to determine youth access to activities to spaces in ways that ignore their gender identity. So this is really about a bigger issue than just sports but what access and what, you know, equality that transgender youth have when they go to school,” Hill said.

A Trevor Project research brief released in September says many LGBTQ+ youths reported choosing not to participate in sports due to discrimination or fear of LGBTQ-based discrimination.

Hill says Equality Texas has received more reports of bullying of LGBTQ+ students across the state. She expects to see a rise in bullying in sports, as well.

“We’re absolutely going to see this in sports too, and not just with LGBTQ+ kids,” Hill said. “We’re going to see this with cis-gender girls who do not fit the model of that gender stereotype rate if they are too strong, too fast, too masculine looking. Those open the door for anyone -- a coach, a fan, a parent -- to say, ‘Hey, you look different. You’re too good. You don’t belong here. And so those numbers are just going to get worse.”

Hill says Equality Texas is working with community members and leaders to stop discriminatory LGBTQ+ bills from becoming laws in the state. The organization encourages people to speak with their representatives and take an active part in the media to be more visible.

“Write op-eds, write letters to the editor and talk to your friends and family about why these bills are so bad,” Hill said. “Because I think a lot of people just -- they don’t understand. They think it is only about that sports piece, and they don’t see how this is really a debate about the humanity of trans kids.”

Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez issued the following statement regarding House Bill 25:

“The Texas Legislature launched an unprecedented attack on the LGBTQ+ community during the regular legislative session which has continued now for three special sessions. This unrelenting attack on innocent children is cruel. Despite unequivocal evidence of the harm filing, hearing, and debating anti-trans bills has caused trans kids and their families and overwhelming community opposition, the bill was passed (8-4) out of the Constitutional Rights & Remedies Committee. 291 Texans registered their opposition to HB 25 while only 55 registered support. These numbers reflect what we know — the majority of Texans believe discrimination against LGBTQ+ people is wrong. Common sense policy doesn’t seek to harm Texans or ignore the negative implications of bills being proposed. Transgender children participating in sports is not a national emergency or a Texas emergency; these attacks on trans kids and the ongoing trauma to the trans community certainly are. This is unconscionable. We will continue to show up to the Capitol in opposition of these bills and will do everything we can to ensure they are defeated once and for all.”

The organization says anyone who wants to make their voice heard can contact the Calendars Committee members by clicking here. Learn more about Equality Texas here.

Watch the entire interview with Hill in the video player above to learn more about other LGBTQ-related bills Equality Texas is monitoring in the Legislature during the special session.

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KSAT’s South Texas Pride series has launched a new series of Q&As to bring the community more long-form LGBTQ+ content on KSAT.com, the KSAT newsreader app and KSAT-TV on streaming devices. Click here for more South Texas Pride stories.


About the Author:

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and KSAT.com includes breaking news, COVID-19 coverage, personal finance stories on the "Money: It's Personal" series, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" series.