Legislative Battles

SB 29: Restricting Transgender Youth in Sports

Senate Bill 29 and its companion, House Bill 4042, would have required public school students to compete in interscholastic athletic competitions based on biological sex. It would enshrine discrimination against transgender youth into law.

Houston is often recognized as the most diverse city in America. A significant element of that diversity includes our LGBTQ+ community. They are valued members of our community and contribute economically, socially and culturally. Discrimination against this community, especially the vulnerable transgender student community, is just wrong.

Transgender students already face a great deal of discrimination. A study from Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) reports:

  • 75 percent of transgender students felt unsafe at school because of their gender expression.
  • 60 percent of transgender students were forced to use a bathroom or locker room that did not match the gender they live every day
  • 50 percent of transgender students were unable to use the name or pronoun that matched their gender
  • 70 percent of transgender students said they avoided bathrooms because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a recognized leader in student athletics, argues that transgender students should be treated with a spirit of inclusion and respect:

Over the course of many years, schools have learned and continue to appreciate the value and necessity of accommodating the sport participation interests of students of color, women, students with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual students. These are all issues of basic fairness and equity that demand the expansion of our thinking about equal opportunity in sports. The right of transgender students to participate in sports calls for similar considerations of fairness and equal access.

SB 29 lacked the votes to get out of the House Public Education Committee earlier in the session but was revived in early May. The bill subsequently passed out of committee on an 8-5 vote.

The bill ultimately died when House Democrats used delay tactics and it failed to survive a critical House deadline for Senate bills being considered in the House.