Bill would expand on law already in effect for K-12 public schools
A Texas Republican state senator has filed a bill that would require collegiate athletes to compete according to their biological sex.
The legislation, if approved, would expand on an already existing Texas law that requires K-12 athletes to compete according to their biological sex.
State Bill 649, authored by Sen. Mayes Middleton, would require students at public and private higher education institutions in the state to compete according to biological sex.
Middleton seeks “to protect the integrity of women’s sports,” she stated in a Jan. 30 news release.
“The bill makes sure women are not forced to compete against biological men, who steal victories and athletic records from females, and put women’s athletic scholarships unfairly at risk,” she stated.
The proposed law states: “An athletic team or sport sponsored or authorized by a public institution of higher education, public junior college, or any private institution or private junior college that competes against a public institution or public junior college may not allow a student to participate in an athletic team or sport sponsored or authorized by the institution of higher education or junior college that is designated for the biological sex opposite to the student ’s biological sex.”
S.B. 649 expands on House Bill 25, which requires “student athletes who compete in interscholastic competition to play on sports teams that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificate at or near their time of birth,” The Texas Tribune reported.
That bill was signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in October 2021, and it went into effect January 2022.
“Separate women’s sports categories are important to protect women athletes from getting hurt and to ensure their victory,” Mary Elizabeth Castle, director of government relations at Texas Values, told The College Fix in a Feb. 15 email.
Texas Values is a nonprofit that advocates for “faith, family, and freedom through public policy, grassroots mobilization, and by standing for the truth in media,” according to its website.
Texas is joining a groundswell of support on this issue, particularly as February is the month of the NCAA swimming qualifier meets.
“The momentum on this issue is growing as high-profile athletes are gaining attention and even speaking on this issue at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.,” Castle said.
“Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, and Mississippi are just a few of the 18 states that have passed similar laws similar to Middleton’s bill,” The Texan reported this month.
Controversy has surrounded well-publicized instances of transgender athletes in collegiate sports, most notably transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.
Among many victories in competing as a woman was against swimmer Riley Gaines at the NCAA Women’s Championships last March.
“In my own personal experience swimming against Lia (formerly Will) Thomas at our NCAA Championships last year, I can wholeheartedly attest to the blatantly obvious unfair advantages and discrimination we faced as female athletes,” Gaines wrote in a Jan. 31 op-ed for Fox News.
The Fix reached out to the ACLU in Oklahoma, where similar legislation is being advocated for in both men’s and women’s sports. Cassidy Falik, communications director, declined to comment.
Castle said she believes the new bill in Texas will pass.
“Our Governor spoke on his support of protecting women’s sports at a recent youth conference in Dallas. Our Lt. Governor has listed Senator Middleton’s bill as a priority for the Texas Legislative Session,” Castle said in her email to The College Fix.