A bill preventing trans student-athletes from competing on teams as their assigned gender found new life in the Texas state House Friday morning when Democrat Rep. Harold Dutton revived the bill seemingly as a retaliatory measure against members of his own party.
According to the Texas Tribune, Dutton brought the bill, Senate Bill 29, up for a second vote to move it out of the House Public Education Committee, which Dutton chairs, and to the House floor. The bill, which is similar to other anti-trans bills proposed in more than 30 states, failed to pass out of committee on Tuesday, leaving its future in doubt. The Friday vote garnered the majority needed, including Dutton’s affirming vote, to advance the bill to a House floor vote, leaving it one step away from landing on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
“It is an incomprehensible betrayal to see a Democrat, who heard desperate testimony from children and parents, take this incredibly harmful action out of sheer vindictiveness toward his Democratic colleagues,” said Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez. “We are already hearing from parents of transgender children who now realize their kids’ lives and dignity were used as a legislative bargaining chip.”
Dutton’s decision appears to be tied to the squashing of an education bill he introduced one day earlier that drew criticism from fellow Democrats. Dutton’s bill would have given Texas Education Commissioner Michael Morath the power to take over independent school districts and remove school board members if they didn’t meet certain academic standards. A vote on Dutton’s bill was blocked Thursday, a fact he brought up multiple times when reintroducing the trans-exclusionary sports bill “as a consequence” on Friday.
“The bill that was killed last night affected far more children than this bill ever will. So as a consequence, the chair moves that Senate Bill 29 as substituted be reported favorably to the full House with the recommendation that it do pass,” Dutton said.
Dutton’s move drew harsh criticism from fellow Texas Democrats. “Any policy that harms the emotional and educational well-being for our students is bad for Texas students, for Texas families, and for our state,” said House Democratic Caucus chair Chris Turner told the Texas Tribune. “The Texas House should be allowed to focus on common-sense policies that benefit Texans, not discriminatory legislation that attacks our children.”