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Texas Poised to Pass Law Limiting Transgender Students to Sports Based on Birth Gender

A bill, ready to be signed by the Texas governor, bars schools “from allowing students to compete in an interscholastic athletic competition authorized by the district or school that is designed for the biological sex opposite to the student’s biological sex.” The law requires school districts to review official birth certificates to determine biological sex. When an official birth certificate is unavailable, the school districts must look at another governmental record. The law applies to students beginning in kindergarten and continuing through twelfth grade. Proponents of the bill state the goal is to remedy past sex discrimination and encourage equal athletic opportunity under Title IX. The proposed law will codify rules already in place since 2016. A legislator opposed to the bill stated, “This bill has one target, trans and intersex youth. And knowing that this bill has a target and can hurt innocent children-why are we even having this debate?” Legislative debate over the bill reportedly included discussions about basic definitions over what the terms transgender and cisgender mean and whether transgender girls are actually boys.

Similar laws exist in five other states, including Florida and West Virginia. Texas has attempted to pass multiple bills regarding transgender students. In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that discrimination based on sex includes discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Per that decision, the U.S. Department of Education announced that educational institutions receiving federal funds are precluded from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Some state and national LGBTQ rights groups are considering challenging the Texas bill. Houston’s professional men's and women’s soccer teams, the WNBA, and a group of approximately 1000+ companies have taken public stands against the bill.