AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The third special session this year is less than two weeks away. Lawmakers will convene to tackle redistricting, which affects every Texan, and other issues that only impact a small population.
Nexstar’s Maggie Glynn spoke with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick about why he’s choosing to push a bill that would require Texas students to play in sports based on their biological sex again, after failing three times already.
Democrats and LGBTQ+ advocates call the bill anti-trans, but Patrick said that’s not the intent.
“We’re not trying to stop anyone or be, you know, harsh towards anyone who’s a transgender student. That’s not the point of this bill. What our bill says is that you should only be allowed to play the sport based on your birth certificate,” Patrick said.
Ricardo Martinez with Equality Texas, though, said the bill is looking to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
“A UIL representative in the most recent hearing testified that he has only received a handful of inquiries about the rules, and could not give any numbers of trans students that are currently participating in sports,” Martinez explained.
But Patrick said there is evidence that it’s already happening.
“We’ve already had some trans kids in Texas win some championships from girls and around the country. So, it’s just going to happen more,” Patrick said.
Martinez also points to the detriments the debate of the bill has on the LGBTQ community, even before it has become law.
“We had a teacher in Katy, Texas call about the worst bullying she has seen in the 16 years that she’s been in this profession and that the target are trans kids,” Martinez said.
Patrick said he’s heard testimony when the bill has made its way through sessions in the past but hears from other constituents who have not testified as well.
“Well, of course, I’m always concerned about how anyone reacts to something that we would do in the legislature. But how about the mental health of a young lady? Or a young girl? How about the dreams of that girl? So if this is the case, we will totally undermine those opportunities at a certain point in time,” Patrick said.
State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (D – Austin) said the bill is a distraction from the big issues lawmakers will tackle next session.
“This is an effort to keep the culture war wars burning even through redistricting. So that attention will be diverted to a red meat issue, while we are dealing with real substantive governance issues that will affect us for the next decade,” Sen. Eckhardt said.
But Patrick said this bill is important, too.
“It’s very important, you know, we wouldn’t have it as a priority bill, the governor wouldn’t keep putting it on the call if it wasn’t,” Patrick said.
The third session officially begins on Sept. 20.