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Texas Republicans just keep passing bills about nonexistent problems.
On Thursday, the Texas state House voted to pass a law that will require K-12 public schools students to compete on sports teams that match the sex listed on their birth certificate. Currently, the University Interscholastic League, which oversees Texas school sports, accepts birth certificates that have been amended later in life; under this new bill, the only acceptable birth certificates would have to be received at or near the time of birth.
In other words, the bill would target transgender and intersex students’ ability to participate in sports that match their gender identity. And this is the fourth time this year that an arm of the Texas state Legislature, which is dominated by the GOP, has tried to pass a bill targeting trans and intersex kids in sports.
“Radical policies like the anti-transgender sports ban bill that target children for no reason other than to score political points, making the state less safe and desirable for families to live and work, putting businesses in the state at a competitive disadvantage,” Human Rights Campaign Texas State Director Rebecca Marques said in a statement. “Rather than focusing on urgent needs for Texans like fixing the fragile, failing electrical grid during three special sessions, the Legislature was hellbent on advancing a discriminatory and harmful agenda just to appease their primary base.”
Lawmakers in dozens of states this year introduced legislation that targeted trans and intersex kids. Several of these bills were aimed at cutting off their ability to access gender-affirming health care, while others, like the Texas legislation, were intended to restrict their ability to participate in school sports.
Multiple analyses have concluded, however, that there are relatively few trans youth athletes participating in sports. State legislators have also struggled to name instances where trans girls—a particular focus of these bills—were participating in sports. But Republicans have seized on trans children’s rights as a “culture war” issue that will animate their conservative voter base, even though bills targeting trans youth athletes are unpopular nationally.
There is also evidence that LGBTQ kids’ mental health is in real danger. A 2018 study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that almost half of trans female teenagers said they had attempted suicide. That number rose among trans male teenagers, as more than half said that they had tried to die of suicide. More than 40 percent of nonbinary young people said the same.
“If you care about mental health, and I know you do, then do this simple thing and not advance this piece of harmful legislation,” Texas state Rep. Mary E. González told legislators on the House floor Thursday, according to the Texas Tribune. “We actually also know that this is a nonissue, that there is no issue with transgender and intersex students playing sports.”
Texas Republicans have already tried to pass legislation that limits trans kids’ participation in sports three times this year, but it stalled out in the House each time, the Houston Chronicle reported. Now, the bill passed Thursday will head to the Texas state Senate, where it is expected to pass.