Opposing sides share opinions on Texas bill restricting rights of transgender student-athletes

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- When it comes to high school sports in Texas, Ricardo Martinez is keeping score.

But the data he uses does not feature runs or points.

"Transgender and non-binary youth in Texas directly stated they are feeling stressed, using self-harm and considering suicide due to anti-LGBT laws and anti-LGBT bills being debated in our state," Martinez said.

In Austin Wednesday during the Texas Legislature's third special session, the Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies held a public hearing on House Bill 25.

Filed last month, the bill would ban student-athletes, kindergarten through 12th grade, from playing on sports teams that do not correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificate. Martinez, the chief executive officer for Equality Texas, was at the Capitol to testify against what he calls anti-transgender legislation.

"We are painting trans people as caricatures, so it becomes easier to attack them," Martinez said. "No one can point to an actual incident here in Texas that indicates this is a problem."

Marco Roberts was also in Austin Wednesday. He's the State Chairman of Log Cabin Republicans of Texas, a group identifying itself as the only organization in the state representing the views of gay, transgender and allied conservatives.

He is in favor of House Bill 25.

"It is a very sensitive issue, and we know people have a lot of high emotions over it," Roberts said. "We are in support of HB25 to protect the original purpose of Title IX, so that women can compete in sports and have equal sports opportunity. Other people who are in this position of having their girls compete against trans athletes also deserve consideration for their children. Everybody's kids count."

Martinez said this school sports debate is playing games with children's lives.

"This is serious," Martinez added. "This is an emergency, and kids are going to die."

The UIL, the governing body of school sports in Texas, states, "For the purpose of competition, gender is determined based on a student's birth certificate."

However, as noted by our partners at the Texas Tribune, under current rules, the UIL will also accept modified birth certificates - changed to align with a student's gender identity. This new legislation, if passed, would end that.

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