TEXAS, USA — The Texas House passed a bill Thursday banning transgender students from playing on public school sports teams aligned with their gender identity.
The debate on House Bill 25 went on for several hours Thursday but came to an end with a 76-54 vote. The bill will now move to the Texas Senate, where it's expected to pass.
HB 25 requires public school athletes to play on teams corresponding with their biological sex at or near birth. It lets girls play on boys' teams if a girls' team is not offered or available.
“Biological males, in addition to having much higher testosterone levels, have many other physiological advantages that girls just cannot overcome,” said Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring), one of the bill’s authors.
Democrats argued the bill is a solution in search of a problem.
“To the community, this is Bathroom Bill 3.0: a bill that was not needed then and a bill that is not needed now,” said Rep. Mary González (D-San Elizario).
Democrats said calls to a crisis line for LGBTQ youth rose dramatically this year.
“When I was growing up, I was a lesbian and I never told anybody because it wasn’t okay,” said Rep. Ann Johnson (D-Houston).
Rep. Johnson shared with colleagues the lingering impact that hateful words she heard as a child had over the decades.
“I would ask that you vote on your heart and not the political risk that might come with making a very courageous decision,” said Rep. Johnson.
A similar bill to HB 25 was filed in the regular session and two prior special sessions but did not pass.