The late Molly Ivins once wrote, “You can’t ignore politics, no matter how much you’d like to.” And this summer, that’s been especially true of the transgender and gender-nonconforming youth of Texas, their families, and allies.
After the first special legislative session ended in early August, Governor Abbot called a second session, and for a while it looked like a group of Democratic state house members would stay in Washington, DC, denying the body a quorum to meet. But enough members returned by August 19 that quorum was re-established, and Republicans quickly went to work on their agenda.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and his allies pushed a measure that will restrict voting access by limiting voting hours and enacting new ID requirements for vote by mail. Next, they set their sights on a bill that will make it harder to discuss issues of race in the classroom. Both bills were approved with just days remaining in the special session and Gov. Abbott subsequently signed the bills.
Fortunately, due to the huge outcry from our community, they were not so lucky with Senate Bill 2, a measure to prohibit transgender and gender non-conforming student athletes from competing as the gender with which they identify. The bill was heard in a marathon, all-night committee session on August 24 that didn’t end until 6 a.m. the next morning.
But that isn’t the end of the story. After nearly ten months of continuous attacks, the legislature just passed HB 25, a cruel bill that will expand discriminatory rules that mandate participation in school sports by sex assigned at birth. Despite hundreds of advocates from around Texas testifying for more than ten hours, a Texas House committee approved HB 25, in an 8-4 vote. This bill puts vulnerable youth in harm’s way has become law.
State leaders also formulated redistricting plans to redraw the electoral boundaries that will go into effect for the next ten years.
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