HB 25, the anti-transgender sports ban, goes into effect today. After a grueling string of anti-LGBTQ+ legislative sessions last year, HB 25 was the only anti-LGBTQ+ bill out of 76 to pass.
HB 25 requires k-12 Texas students to play sports according to their gender assigned at birth, effectively banning transgender kids from the friendship, education, teamwork, and health benefits of playing sports with their friends.
All Texans, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, or how we express our genders, want to be treated with dignity and respect. This is especially true for kids, who have already had their lives turned upside down with the ongoing pandemic. The last thing kids need right now is yet another policy that marks them as different or dangerous.
Politicians exploited our differences all through 2021, particularly in schools, whether it was by dictating how Black kids can wear their hair, micromanaging about which lives and experiences teachers can teach, or excluding transgender kids from normal school activities. Kids just want to live their lives without having to worry about lawmakers stoking fear against them for political gain.
There are still a lot of unknowns. The bill itself doesn’t have any guidance for how schools should start excluding transgender students from sports. Instead, the language directs UIL to create a process for schools, which has not yet happened and could take months. The most UIL has done to date is to update their nondiscrimination policy to include language from the bill without information on implementation or enforcement.
Whatever process UIL creates will have to grapple with how to navigate private healthcare documents, how to work with kids who are not yet “out” to their friends, and how to handle adults who accuse children of misrepresenting their gender. HB 25 also states that whatever rules UIL develops must “ensure compliance with state and federal law regarding the confidentiality of student medical information.”
Without enforcement guidance from UIL, schools have no uniform way to implement the law. If you’re interested in keeping up with the latest news regarding the sports ban, sign up for updates here. If you or someone you know encounters an issue with sports access, please let us know by filling out this form. In the meantime we’ve put together a high level resource to help navigate these situations. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in receiving a copy.
What we do know is that the 10-month debate on this bill was incredibly harmful for the mental and emotional health of Texas transgender kids. Any time kids are debated as a threat or a problem to be solved sends the message that they are less than.
This is a hard day for Texas trans, nonbinary, and intersex kids. That’s why we’re flooding social media today with messages of hope and support. Print out this image and fill it in with a message of love. Take a picture and post with the hashtags #transkidsbelong and #letkidsplay.
Trans youth: know that you are loved. Try your best not to internalize the messages of HB 25. We see how bright your authenticity shines and how brave you’ve been and continue to be. And we will keep fighting alongside you on this journey.
P.S. We’re working to help the LGBTQ+ community TurnOUT for Texas elections so we never have a legislative session as bad as 2021. Equality Texas has always existed in a challenging political climate and we will never stop fighting to protect your rights despite setbacks. This year, we’re launching a multi-year investment in electoral work focused on key legislative districts so we never have a legislative session quite like 2021. A $5 donation could make a big difference.