Texas House committee holds hearing on 'Save Women's Sports' bill SB 15
AUSTIN, Texas - Competing in Texas high school sports currently requires students to be on teams corresponding to the student's biological sex at birth.
However, Senate Bill 15, the "Save Women's Sports" bill, would make that state law apply to all college sports teams in Texas organized by public universities and colleges.
A hearing was held May 1 in the House Higher Education Committee. House sponsor of the bill and state Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring) later announced she has almost 90 co-sponsors for SB 15, more than enough to clear the House chamber.
"The bill does not keep anyone from playing sports. It just says that everyone must play by their biological sex, which is the only common sense way to divide up athletics," said Swanson.
Democrats on the committee raised concerns about the legislation. There was a warning that SB 15 could expose state universities to costly lawsuits. Others who testified in opposition described the bill as unfair and unnecessary.
"We don't ban color women from basketball for simply being taller than average. What these arbitrary guidelines do accomplish, however, is forcing trans athletes to choose between playing sports and living and competing authentically as themselves," said a woman named Megan.
Speaking for SB 15 was Riley Gaines, a former Kentucky collegiate swimmer, who was joined by other female athletes at the Texas capitol to testify.
"There's so much at stake here, not just athletic opportunities. Think of what sports gives women in terms of their leadership skills, in terms of things that translate far beyond just those four years in college or those high school endeavors in sports. So emotional is a good word," said Gaines.
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State lawmakers were warned about unintended consequences and told SB 15 could actually hurt and not protect women's sports. Mack Beggs testified about being a high school wrestler and what happened after he transitioned from a girl to a boy.
"I did everything that I could. To be fair," said Beggs.
There have been several news reports about how Beggs was forced to compete in the female classification. He talked about that struggle in the hearing.
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"When I was competing in high school, I had an extremely hard time being myself, despite the obstacles that referred me. Whether it was a bathroom issue or whatever accommodations, that still didn't stop me from becoming the best athlete I could be because I love sports and I love participating," said Beggs.
State law does allow a girl to compete on boys teams, but only in special circumstances, or when their school district does not have a team in the sport they play.
It’s not clear when SB 15 will be on the House floor for debate. On May 2, another controversial bill on gender-affirming care for children is reportedly expected to be debated in the House.