AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The chair of the Texas House Public Education Committee revived a bill that would bar transgender students from playing sports matching their gender identity, after the legislation initially failed to receive enough support earlier this week.
State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, perturbed by fellow Democrats who forced his legislation relating to the state takeover of Houston ISD back into committee on Thursday over a procedural technicality on the House floor, held a meeting early Friday to advance the transgender athlete bill.
Dutton called a formal meeting during which he revived Senate Bill 29, which failed to receive enough votes to pass out of committee on Tuesday. Formal meetings do not have to be broadcast and no testimony is taken.
“I can tell you that the bill that was killed last night affected far more children than this bill ever will,” Dutton said. “So as a consequence, the chair moves that Senate Bill 29 as substituted be reported favorably to the full House…”
The bill passed out of committee 8-5.
“We want to make sure that rules that we have the Texas what (University Interscholastic League) has adopted, are what we’re operating under,” said State Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, the committee’s vice chair.
Fellow Democrats on the committee blasted the move and claimed it was politically motivated.
“There is no need for it to be a statute,” said State Rep. Mary González, D- El Paso. “And the harm could be exasperated, and even the discourse creates a climate and environment for young kids in which they feel worse about themselves that contributes to their mental health, anxiety, or depression, which ultimate consequences of that is suicide.”
“We know this is not trying to solve a problem when we’re doing this for political reasons,” State Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, said.
After the vote, Dutton then sought approval on the Senate version of his school district accountability legislation that was forced back down to committee the day before. He left that bill pending.
The Texas House LGBTQ Caucus released a statement after the bill was voted out of committee, saying the bill “hurts Texas children” by excluding transgender youth from sports that can help their health and wellbeing, and potentially putting them at risk of bullying and exclusion.
“All Texas kids deserve our compassion and protection, and we remain wholeheartedly committed to fighting for their best interests,” it said.