Texas governor Greg Abbott extends trans sports ban to college students

Greg Abbot, in a blue suit and tie, speaks to a committee.

The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has signed another set of anti-trans laws as part of the state’s curb on LGBTQ+ rights.

Two of the nine bills signed by Republican Abbott on Thursday (16 June) are set to repeal rights of expression for the trans community even further.

One of the bills, SB 15, extends so-called “protections” that ban trans women from competing in school sports to college-level athletic competitions.

Sponsored by almost every Republican in the state’s legislature, the bill passed its third reading on 18 May with a vote of 95-50.

“Women’s sports are being threatened,” Abbott said during the signing ceremony. “The legacy of women’s sports will be safeguarded for generations to come.”

A law banning K-12 schools, from kindergarten up to 12th grade, in Texas from allowing trans participants was signed in 2021.

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But calls for expansions to the law by anti-LGBTQ+ Republicans grew after a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ bills hit American state legislatures across the US at the start of the year.

Meanwhile, HB 900 prohibits what it describes as “harmful library material” that school boards consider sexually explicit or “educationally unsuitable.”

Its vague clauses have been described by activists as unworkable and threaten to remove most, if not all, LGBTQ+ content from public libraries.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas noted its opposition to the bills in a statement on Twitter, saying: “Lawmakers have no right taking away the freedom of Texas students to read, just because they don’t believe certain people are worth reading about.

“HB 900 creates new categories of books and materials that would either be completely banned in public school libraries or subject to restriction.

“Many categories are extremely broad or undefined, like materials that are ‘sexually relevant’ or ‘educationally unsuitable’.”

Over the course of 2023, Texas has become one of the most notorious states for proposing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

Fifty-three bills are currently being tracked by the ACLU that either mitigate the rights of LGBTQ+ people or suppress their right to self-expression.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) condemned the Republican attacks, saying that anti-LGBTQ+ intent is becoming “more and more apparent.”

HRC state legislative director Cathryn Oakley said: “Legislators are spending an enormous amount of time and resources advancing measures that would cruelly and drastically limit the freedoms of LGBTQ+ Texans – and that’s discrimination.

“LGBTQ+ Texans are already feeling the negative effects from just the debate around these hateful bills, many feel increasingly unsafe and unwelcome in their own home towns.”