AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Gov. Greg Abbott held a bill-signing ceremony Thursday afternoon, signing into law a bill he said would “protect women’s sport,” but LGBTQ advocates said it would harm their communities.
Senate Bill 15 Transgender athletes at the collegiate level are prohibited from playing on sports teams that do not correspond to their assigned biological sex at birth. It expands similar restrictions signed into law two years ago that apply to athletic competition in Texas public schools in grades K-12.
During regular legislative session, Republican women like bill sponsor Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring Said the bill was to ensure fair competition for female athletes.
“This legislation has nothing to do with participation. This legislation is not meant to limit anyone’s opportunity,” Swanson said in May. “It’s not fair for young women to see their records broken, honors and scholarships, not for other women, but for their own men.”
During the House debate in May, Rep. John Bucy (D-Austin) joined other Democrats and LGBTQ groups who said the bill was harmful.
“There’s no research or evidence that this impacts access or opportunity for women in Texas,” he said. “We waste time on made-up questions. When asked if they currently have or have had transgender athletes compete, [Texas colleges] say no. There are no transgender athletes in college sports. not a single one. “
SB 15 would require college athletes to join teams that match their biological sex, regardless of what they perceive to be. It also allows civilians to sue a college or university if they believe the school is breaking the law. Under the Act, anyone who reports any breach will be provided with whistleblower protection.
Governor signs legislation at 1 p.m.
Behind the governor are former athletes like Westlake mom Jeri Shanteau, who is sporting a college swimming medal she won for Auburn University. Shanteau, an 11-time NCAA All-American and three-time national champion, advocated for such laws nationwide.
“We don’t want to take that away from anyone else. It’s a matter of ensuring women’s safety, privacy and fairness again,” she said.
Most Americans seem to support such a law, according to a survey Gallup May Survey. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they believed athletes should only play on teams that matched their assigned gender at birth.
Still, LGBTQ advocates say the issue is out of the question. Rocio Fierro-Perez, senior political coordinator for the Texas Freedom Network, said the law would further harm trans Texans.
“This bill is clearly discriminatory,” she said. “I don’t think there’s enough evidence and they’re creating a problem that doesn’t exist.”
The Texas NCAA has no reports of transgender athletes participating in any sports, let alone depriving female athletes of awards.
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