Abbott signs bill limiting the participation of transgender youth on public school sports teams – Houston Public Media

Governor Greg Abbott enacted House Bill 25. The bill requires students who participate in K-12 College Inter-School League sports to play on teams that match the gender assigned on the birth certificate issued closest to the student’s birth. The law enters effective next January.

Today’s signing marks the end of a long journey for controversial change. Several different iterations of the measure have been debated on and off since the start of the Texas regular legislative session in January.

Supporters of the bill say they believe it prevents trans athletes, especially trans girls, from having an unfair advantage when competing against cisgender students. Opponents say there is no evidence this is a problem in Texas.

The measure also rings good with very conservative voters – a group Abbott is trying to woo as he heads to his reelection campaign in 2022.

Those who oppose HB 25 say the bill is an attack on transgender children that causes harm and anxiety to trans youth and their families.

“We are devastated”, Ricardo Martinez, CEO of LGBTQ rights group Equality Texas, said in response to the signing of the bill.

“Over the past 10+ months – and despite the powerful testimony of trans children and their parents, families, trans adults, the many emails our community has sent and the appeal received by the governor’s office to oppose its veto this nefarious legislation – they decided to go ahead and we are just devastated. “

After versions of HB 25 were blocked throughout the House during the regular legislative session, Governor Abbott made limiting the participation of transgender youth in public school sports a priority in each special session that followed.

“Our advocates, our parents, our trans and LGBTQ youth across Texas really need to refill their cups, to unwrap this acute trauma caused by these legislative sessions,” Martinez said with Equality Texas. “Our community is our number one priority.”

The Trevor project, an LGBTQ youth suicide and crisis response organization, said it was detrimental to trans youth in Texas, and reports that its crisis contacts in the state have increased 150% from the ‘last year. The group says many young people who contacted them cited the Texas legislature’s review of bills targeting trans children and teens. Hearing repeatedly about these measures led to stress and suicidal thoughts.

Texas is now the fifth state in the United States to ban trans youth from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity. LGBTQ + rights groups like Equality Texas say they are exploring legal options to challenge the bill.

While they easily rolled out across the Senate in the first two special sessions, other similar bills were blocked by a House committee. HB 25 rolled out of the packed house earlier this month – as the end of the Third Special Session approaches. State senators quickly voted the measure out of the chamber, and it was sent to Gov. Abbott’s office after the House approved Senate amendments to the bill.

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