Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
A bill that would prevent transgender Texas children from joining school sports teams that match their gender identity failed to advance out of a House committee Tuesday, signaling potential trouble for one of several anti-LGBTQ bills in the Legislature.
The Senate has advanced a handful of bills that LGBTQ advocates say threaten the rights and mental health of transgender children in Texas, including restricting their access to school sports and medical care. Senate Bill 29, the sports bill, is the first anti-trans Senate bill to get a committee vote in the lower chamber.
House legislation banning gender confirmation health care for children, signed by 45 Republicans, was passed out of the lower chamber’s Public Health committee last week but has yet to reach the full House floor. Senate-approved legislation labelling the treatment as child abuse is set to go before the same committee, which is made up of six Republicans and five Democrats.
When members of the House Public Education committee — made up of six Democrats and seven Republicans — took up sports bill SB 29 on Tuesday, it failed to advance in a 5-6 vote. State Rep. Gary VanDeaver, a former school administrator and New Boston Republican, was the only GOP committee member to vote against advancing the bill.
Opponents of the legislation cheered the vote.
“We thank the members of the House Public Education committee for their votes today against SB 29,” said Zeph Capo, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers. “We did the right thing today for all the children of Texas by standing up for trans kids.”
Jamey Harrison, deputy director of the University Interscholastic League, told the House Public Education committee that the bill codifies current UIL rules, though there is one key distinction. The UIL mandate students in K-12 schools to compete on the team that aligns with the sex listed on their birth certificate. SB 29 adds that it must be the sex listed at or around birth. The change targets transgender Texans, who may change the sex listed on their birth certificate.