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Advocates speak out this week against the Texas House's latest bill seeking to limit transgender kids' participation in school sports.
The Republican-backed bill barring transgender student athletes from joining school sports teams aligned with their gender identity appears headed to a full vote in the Texas House, where it's likely to pass.
A House committee approved the controversial measure Wednesday, following what the Texas Tribune called "eight hours of emotional testimony."
The vote by the House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies was 8-4 along party lines, according to the Trib.
House Speaker Dade Phelan has said the measure, House Bill 25, has enough votes to be approved in the GOP-controlled chamber. Similar legislation has already been passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Senate, and Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign such a ban into law.
The Texas Legislature has failed three times this year to pass a bill forcing transgender athletes to play on teams that align with their assigned gender at birth, arguing they want to protect cisgender athletes.
However, parents, student athletes and medical professionals have repeatedly testified that the proposals are cruel and unnecessary. Many voiced concern
that the legislation and its prolonged debate are hurting transgender children's mental health.
In an emailed statement, the ACLU of Texas said the House legislation defies medical science while solving no problem.
“The anti-trans youth sports ban exists solely for one purpose: to erase and exclude transgender people from all aspects of public life," said Adri Perez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas.
"This cruel bill targets an already vulnerable population, who simply want to participate in school athletics as their authentic selves. Lawmakers insist on attacking children, and forcing trans youth to fight for their own relevance by testifying at the Capitol — when they should just be kids enjoying school.
Other groups blasted the bill as an attempt by the Texas GOP to throw red meat to the base while ignoring pressing issues such as the root causes of February's winter blackouts that left as many as 700 Texans dead.
“This is yet another example of how Governor Abbott and Texas Republicans are using special sessions to advance their inhumane agenda — all while actively ignoring their constituents’ needs, Texas’ vulnerable power grid and the devastating effects of COVID-19 on our state," said Carisa Lopez, political director for progressive group Texas Freedom Network.
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