Texas Governor Says He Favors College Ban on Transgender Athletes

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(Bloomberg) -- Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he’d back proposed legislation that would ban transgender athletes from participating in college sports, potentially setting up a fight with the National Collegiate Athletic Association over the issue.

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He plans to work with state lawmakers in the next legislative session to pass the college sports ban, he said at a Feb 11 conference in Dallas hosted by the Young America’s Foundation.

The remarks from the Republican governor are part of a growing movement among some GOP-led states to target transgender athletes and restrict discussion about gender and identity at public schools. Banning transgender athletes from collegiate sports would challenge current NCAA policy, which allows participation as long as certain requirements are met related to testosterone levels. Texas has at least 20 colleges that participate in the NCAA.

The NCAA declined to comment, and Abbott’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

Texas lawmakers have filed at least two bills this session aimed at transgender athletes in college. During the last session, in 2021, Texas passed legislation barring students in kindergarten through high school from participating in sports categories that didn’t align with the gender they were assigned at birth.

At least a dozen states have implemented similar bans. In 2020, Idaho became the first state to sign a law limiting transgender athletes from playing in collegiate and K through 12 sports. The American Civil Liberties Union, a nonprofit, counts at least 299 bills it views as anti-LGBTQ that have been introduced in the US for the 2023 legislative sessions. That includes at least 23 bills introduced by Texas lawmakers.

“This current proposal will fly in the face of experts like the NCAA Board of Governors that already set guidelines for collegiate sports and have long supported transgender inclusion,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the president of LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD.

--With assistance from Ella Ceron.

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