Democratic Texas state Representative Harold Dutton has revived Senate Bill 29, a bill that would ban transgender athletes from playing on sports teams matching their gender identity. Dutton seems to have revived the bill in retaliation against members of his own party who blocked his education bill earlier this […]
Democratic Texas state Representative Harold Dutton has revived Senate Bill 29, a bill that would ban transgender athletes from playing on sports teams matching their gender identity. Dutton seems to have revived the bill in retaliation against members of his own party who blocked his education bill earlier this week.
On Tuesday, the anti-transgender bill failed to move out of the state House Public Education Committee, which Dutton heads. The bill lacked sufficient votes because a Republican committee member was absent and Dutton himself didn't vote.
Then, on Thursday, fellow Democratic Representative Alma Allen helped block Dutton's education bill. Dutton's bill would've allowed the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to take over independent school districts and remove school board members that failed to meet certain academic standards, The Texas Tribune reported.
Allen blocked the bill, which was reportedly unpopular among state Democrats, on a technicality. She believed it would punish school districts without giving them alternate sources of help before a TEA takeover.
Democratic Representative Lina Ortega told the Tribune that after Allen defeated Dutton's bill, Dutton told Allen that he would revive the transgender sports bill in retaliation. On Friday morning, Dutton brought the bill back up for a second vote within his committee. It passed by an 8-5 vote.
"The bill that was killed last night affected far more children than this bill ever will," Dutton said of the bills. "So as a consequence, the chair moves that Senate Bill 29 as substituted be reported favorably to the full House with the recommendation that it do pass."
Now, the bill must receive House approval before it can head to Governor Greg Abbott's desk. Abbott has said he will sign it into law.
"It is an incomprehensible betrayal to see a Democrat, who heard desperate testimony from children and parents, take this incredibly harmful action out of sheer vindictiveness toward his Democratic colleagues," Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas told the aforementioned publication. Equality Texas is a state LGBTQ advocacy organization.
Texas transgender youth and their parents had spoken against the state's anti-transgender bills earlier this month. Those that testified began receiving online death threats.
"We are already hearing from parents of transgender children who now realize their kids' lives and dignity were used as a legislative bargaining chip," Martinez added.
Texas and 30 other states have introduced similar anti-trans bills. Many of the bills claim that people assigned a male gender at birth have physical and competitive advantages over cisgender women. This claim remains under dispute since transgender sports science is a relatively new field of study.
On Wednesday, Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West said that the state GOP stands ready to defend the bill against any legal challenges in court.
Two dozen state legislators sponsoring similar legislation were mostly unable to cite past problems created by transgender athletes participating in youth sports, the Associated Press reported in March.
Newsweek contacted Dutton's office for comment.