Published: Tue, May 16, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Texas Bill Could Ban Transgender Students From School Sports

State Senator Carlos Uresti of San Antonio was one of four Democrats who sided with Republican colleagues on the preliminary approval of a bill that lets the University Interscholastic League disqualify student athletes on steroids, including trans boys taking testosterone for gender dysphoria.

"The real intent of the bill is to keep young transgender athletes from participating in sports. So when I hear Mayor Adler or somebody else make those statements, it's just not true", Bettencourt said. And, in a nod to lawmakers calling for reform of the S.C. Department of Transportation, the bill gives the governor, who would appoint all members of the commission that oversees the agency, the authority to remove any commissioner for any reason.

Consideration of the bill follows scrutiny of Mack Beggs' state championship win. The UIL has a ban on steroids but its rules allow their use if they have been "dispensed, prescribed, delivered and administered by a medical practitioner for a valid medical goal". "Steroids can create a situation where it would be unsafe and unfair for students to compete".

A recent lawsuit brought by the parent of a female wrestler who competed against Beggs challenged the UIL's "safe harbor" medical exception in an attempt to void Beggs's title and remove him from competition, arguing that by allowing him to wrestle at all his opponents were placed in "imminent threat of bodily harm".

"It's no secret the legislative process in Texas is created to kill more bills than pass bills and that's why these deadlines are in place", said Rep. Chris Turner, of Grand Prairie, who heads the House Democratic Caucus. "[Texas has] just taken a step to help private prison corporations circumvent these court rulings that are meant to protect children, and we're greatly disappointed", said Laura Guerra-Cardus of the Children's Defense Fund - Texas, an advocacy group. "This bill is addressing individuals who ... are taking steroids".

The bill has passed the Senate and now goes to the House for consideration before the Legislature adjourns May 29. Trans student athletes seeking an exception to the bill's ban are required to persuade UIL that the student's hormone therapy serves a "valid medical goal". "Transgender people are no different".

A proposal mandating transgender Texans to use public restrooms according to their birth certificate gender sailed through the Texas Senate weeks ago, but a similar measure that bans schools and local communities from passing ordinances to protect LGBT rights has been bottled up in the House.

Archer City ISD Superintendent C.D. Knobloch said they already have policies in place for reporting those incidents.

UIL officials say killing the testing program limited their ability to police steroid use in competition. "We're not. We pass a balanced budget every year". And even as he defended changes to Senate Bill 2, which the upper chamber passed, 18-12, he doesn't think lawmakers will pass the legislation this session.

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