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The Texas Senate has approved a bill that would allow the University Interscholastic League, the state’s governing body for high school athletics, to disqualify student-athletes who are on steroids, including transgender boys taking hormones as part of their transition.
Under the UIL’s current policy, students are banned from using steroids. But there is a “safe harbor” provision that allows students to take hormones if they are “dispensed, prescribed, delivered and administered by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose.”
If the bill passes, it would allow the UIL to disqualify an athlete on steroids if sporting officials believe “the safety of competing students or the fairness of a particular competition has been or will be substantially affected by the student’s steroid use.”
It would also require students to notify the UIL if they begin taking steroids, and to hand over any “health-related information” to the league, at which point the league will hold a closed-door hearing to determine whether a student has violated league rules by gaining an unfair advantage from steroid use. That health-related information, and any information that arises in the course of a UIL ruling, is to be kept confidential.
The timing of the bill has raised some questions, coming after Trinity High School wrestler Mack Beggs, a transgender boy, won the UIL state girls’ wrestling title. Beggs’ victory was unsuccessfully challenged by a parent of a fellow wrestler, who alleged that he had gained an unfair physical advantage over his competition because of his use of hormones, reports The Dallas Morning News. Under Texas law, because Beggs’ birth certificate still lists his gender as “female,” he is forced to wrestle in the girls’ league.
Athlete Ally, a national organization that encourages LGBTQ inclusion in sports, blasted the bill, which received support from all of the upper chamber’s Republicans and four conservative Democrats.
“SB2095 is nothing more than a veiled attempt to exclude transgender athletes from participating in sports,” Hudson Taylor, Athlete Ally’s executive director, said in a statement. “The bill has been disguised under the auspices of fair-play and reducing steroid use, while in fact this argument has been debunked with past UIL monitoring efforts. It’s clear that the real intent of this bill is to allow UIL to discriminate against transgender youth.”