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What's Next For The Transgender Student Athlete Bill That’s Causing Heat In The Texas Legislature

Three student athletes doing high knees jumps along the track with empty bleachers behind them.
LM Otero
File photo of student athletes conditioning at Arlington Martin High School in 2020. Regulating which teams transgender student athletes can participate on has been a priority for Republican lawmakers in Texas. The state senate just passed a bill related to the push, and it now heads to the House.

A bill limiting the rights of transgender student athletes is on the plates of Texas lawmakers for the fourth time this year. Here’s how we got here, and what’s to come.

The ongoing attempt to place restrictions on transgender student athletes is near the top of Gov. Greg Abbott’s list of priorities for the Texas Legislature's third special session. And after the state senate passed a bill on Wednesday, lawmakers are hopeful that it will also pass through the House.

What’s Happened So Far?

During the regular legislative session that took place from Jan toMay of this year, the Senate passed a bill identical to the one being debated in the current special session

In the House however, the bill missed a key deadline for it to be passed, on account of House Democrats using procedural tactics to delay the final reading of the bill.

As a result, Abbott placed the item on the last two special sessions agendas, and now on this third one.

Passing this legislation in the previous two special sessions was a challenge, primarily because House Democrats chose not to show up in their chamber, breaking quorum.

Where Are We Now & What’s Next?

Senate Bill 3 restricting transgender student athletes now heads to the House.

In an interviewwith The Texas Tribune on Friday, Speaker of the House Dade Phelan said that he believes the bill has enough votes to make it out of committee and pass through the House this time around.

“Like any other piece of legislation, it’ll be incumbent upon the author to make the case throughout the process," Phelan said. "We’ll see if it makes it to the House floor,”

Like all other bills in the legislature, if Senate Bill 3 makes it out of the House committee process, then it will go to the full chamber for a vote, and is sure to be signed by the governor if it passes.

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Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter for KUT. She also served as a legislative fellow for The Texas Newsroom during the 2021 legislative session.