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Dive Brief:

  • Transgender athletes in Texas’ public colleges will no longer be able to participate in sports that correspond with their gender identities under legislation Gov. Greg Abbott signed Thursday.
  • Abbott, during a bill signing ceremony, proclaimed the state was acting to “to safeguard women’s collegiate sports,” despite few transgender college athletes having openly competed nationwide.
  • The new law, which takes effect Sept. 1, also will protect whistleblowers who report potential violations of the law and allow individuals to file civil lawsuits against noncompliant public colleges.

Dive Insight:

Texas has been a battleground over LGBTQ+ rights amid a national conservative campaign targeting transgender people. 

The American Civil Liberties Union identified more than 50 anti-LGBTQ+ bills Texas introduced during its just-concluded legislative session.

The law Abbott signed Thursday builds on one passed in 2021, which places similar restrictions on transgender athletes in K-12 schools. 

Policy pundits have said Texas’ restrictions on transgender college athletes could clash with a regulatory proposal from the Biden administration. That proposal would forbid federally funded schools from imposing categorical bans on transgender athletes participating in sports aligned with their gender.

A U.S. Department of Education spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Texas’ anti-LGBTQ+ crusade isn’t over. 

The state’s attorney general recently sued the Education Department over guidance it issued two years ago that concludes transgender athletes are protected under Title IX, a federal anti-discrimination law. 

A federal court order last year blocked the guidance from being enforced in 20 predominantly red states. 

Other states are advancing similar legislation to Texas’. In North Carolina, a Senate committee recently passed what’s called the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. It would only allow athletes to compete in teams aligned with their sex at birth.

Alabama last month also passed legislation barring transgender athletes in public colleges from sports matching their gender identities.