Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed Monday a bill banning transgender students from participating in public school sports teams that are compatible with their gender identity.
The bill cleared the Legislature this month . It will be in effect from January and affects all levels of athletics, elementary school through university.
Abbott didn’t immediately comment on this ban. Rep. Valoree Swinson, the lead sponsor of the bill in the state House has stated that it was “all about girls” and protects them in the state’s University Interscholastic League.
” We need a level playing field across the state,” Swanson stated on the House floor. “It’s very important that we, who got elected to be here, protect our girls.”
Although student athletes had been required to play on teams that aligned with the genders listed on their birth certificates, they could obtain court orders allowing them to change the gender markers and compete in interscholastic athletics.
This option is no more available under the Monday bill.
Critics of the legislation claim that it is discriminatory. They also say that its supporters have not been able provide examples of transgender athletes competing unfairly in women’s sports.
In a statement Monday, Equality Texas, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said that if Texans “want to protect children, the goal shouldn’t be to prevent trans kids from participating in sports, but to give all kids the freedom to make friends and play without fearing the kind of discrimination many older trans people face on a daily basis.”
CORRECTION (Oct. 25, 2021, 8: 05 p.m. ET): The headlines in a previous version were inaccurate. It prohibits transgender students from participating in school sports that are compatible with their gender identity, but not all school sports.
Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News based in California.