Texas Senate bill restricting transgender students’ sports participation stalls in House committee, casting doubts on its fate

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People hold up signs opposing several anti-LGBTQ bills in the Texas Legislature at an event held by Equality Texas at the Capitol last month. A Senate bill that would limit the public schools sports teams that transgender children could join appeared troubled in the House on Tuesday. Credit: Sergio Flores for The Texas Tribune

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A bill that would prevent transgender Texas children from joining school sports teams that match their gender identity failed to advance out of a House committee Tuesday, signaling potential trouble for one of several anti-LGBTQ bills in the Legislature.

The Senate has advanced a handful of bills that LGBTQ advocates say threaten the rights and mental health of transgender children in Texas, including restricting their access to school sports and medical care. Senate Bill 29, the sports bill, is the first anti-trans Senate bill to get a committee vote in the lower chamber.

House legislation banning gender confirmation health care for children, signed by 45 Republicans, was passed out of the lower chamber’s Public Health committee last week but has yet to reach the full House floor. Senate-approved legislation labelling the treatment as child abuse is set to go before the same committee, which is made up of six Republicans and five Democrats.

When members of the House Public Education committee — made up of six Democrats and seven Republicans — took up sports bill SB 29 on Tuesday, it failed to advance in a 5-6 vote. State Rep. Gary VanDeaver, a former school administrator and New Boston Republican, was the only GOP committee member to vote against advancing the bill.

Opponents of the legislation cheered the vote.

“We thank the members of the House Public Education committee for their votes today against SB 29,” said Zeph Capo, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers. “We did the right thing today for all the children of Texas by standing up for trans kids.”