AUSTIN (Nexstar) – A controversial bill that would require student athlete in Texas public schools to play sports based on their biological sex at birth was the subject of a first full debate in the House on Thursday.
Similar legislation has already died three times this year, but second reading and plenary debate is an obstacle it has yet to reach. Texas Values celebrated this as a win earlier this week.
“Right here with me, I have 22,000 pieces of paper. And those 22,000 pieces of paper are only a fraction of the emails that have been sent to Texas House and the Texas Senate in support of this legislation that will protect women’s sport, ”Mary Elizabeth Castle said Wednesday with Texas Values in front of the chambers of the House.
Supporters of House Bill 25 have been pushing House leaders to get the bill to the finish line for months now. This session, the companion of the Senate has already passed quickly through the other chamber, as he had done in previous sessions.
“We also heard from UIL that they were getting more and more calls regarding changes to birth certificates and men participating in women’s sports,” Castle said.
But Democrats are backing down and are not reporting any specific athlete complaints filed with UIL of transgender athletes competing in women’s sports. Additionally, UIL has previously said it has no way of tracking the number of transgender athletes currently participating in sports across Texas.
They call the bill a solution to find a problem and say it is already causing harm.
“Because the Texas legislature pursued these bills, a 150% increase in suicide has occurred in the LGBTQ community, mostly transgender children, because their government doesn’t care about them,” said State Representative Julie Johnson (D-Farmers Branch) in Thursday’s debate.
“We are here to protect children; we know this bill hurts some children. So when we say “we don’t mean to hurt”, do we mean all the children or just a few children? State Representative Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint) said Thursday.
However, the Republican author of the bill said she cares about the mental health of all children in Texas.
“It affects the 332,000 girls who currently play sports at UIL in Texas,” said State Representative Valoree Swanson (R-Spring).
Swanson added that nine other states have already passed similar legislation.
House lawmakers are expected to vote on the bill by the end of the night. He will then need another stamp of approval before going to the Senate.