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Texas Spotlights Transgender Athlete Issues as Bill Progresses in Legislature

The Texas University Interscholastic League’s constitution requires that student-athletes compete according to the gender on their birth certificate. In February, a 17-year-old transgender male was required to wrestle against females, despite his preference to compete in the boys’ league. He went on to win the Class 6A 110-pound girls’state championship in Texas high school wrestling to both criticism and support.

In a 21-10 vote, the Texas Senate has approved the controversial SB6, commonly known as the “bathroom bill.”

SB6 would not only require that all Texans use the bathroom matching the sex on their birth certificates in public schools and government buildings, it also would prohibit local governments from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances on the same issue.

This move comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s decision to reverse the Obama Administration’s May 2016 guidance providing that Title IX protects the right of transgender students in public schools to use bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding with their gender identity.

If SB6 becomes law, Texas may be faced with opposition similar to that seen in North Carolina after that state’s controversial HB2 “bathroom bill” was passed into law in 2016.

The NBA, ACC, and NCAA have moved several lucrative events out of North Carolina, and this trend may continue as the North Carolina Sports Association has reported that the NCAA has threatened to pull the state’s bids for all major events through 2022. This could result in severe financial losses for the state.

The NFL and NBA have warned that Texas may be jeopardizing its chances at hosting future events should SB6 become law. Since 2004, Texas hosted three NBA All-Star Games and three Super Bowls – including Super Bowl LI played at Houston’s NRG Stadium between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. While the NFL’s stance does not affect the state’s chances of hosting a Super Bowl in the near future since sites have been selected through 2021, none of which are in Texas, the same cannot be said for Texas landing the 2020 or 2021 NBA All-Star Games for which Houston has been considered a frontrunner.

Sports leagues have come down hard on North Carolina for passing its “bathroom bill.” Texas may expect the same treatment if SB6 is passed.

Lin J. Wagner contributed to this article.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2017

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About this Author

Gregg E. Clifton, Collegiate Sports Attorney, Jackson Lewis, disciplinary hearings Lawyer
Office Managing Principal

Gregg E. Clifton is Office Managing Principal of the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as one of the editors of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major...

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