A transgender equality flag is raised during a rally at Crockett Park in 2018.
A transgender equality flag is raised during a rally at Crockett Park in 2018. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

As the Texas Legislature advances legislation restricting the participation of transgender youth in school sports, San Antonio City Council members approved a resolution opposing it.

The nonbinding resolution, which passed on a 10-1 vote, called the proposed legislation “an attack on the safety of trans children and youth.” Senate Bill 3, which states that students cannot compete in an athletic competition that does not match their sex assigned at birth, was approved by the Texas Senate on Sept. 22 and is now in the House Public Education Committee.

Some council members criticized the motive behind the legislation.

“It really is one of a bunch of issues that are not of concern to people in this country and certainly not to Texans, but only to a narrow few,” Councilman John Courage (D9) said during a City Council meeting Thursday. “[State lawmakers] just want to perpetuate issues to make sure their base votes for them in their primary election so they can continue with what they perceive to be their power.”

Several council members pointed out that the potential economic impact of the legislation could be damaging. Others noted that the proposed legislation also flies in the face of the city’s non-discrimination ordinance, which was updated in 2013 to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and veteran status as protected classes.

“We’ve heard from large national and multinational corporations that have expressed their belief that these discriminatory efforts disrupt their ability to attract and retain talent and compete for business,” Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda (D6) said. “I support equal justice, I support students, and I support business. So I support this resolution.”

Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, who attended Thursday’s meeting remotely, said the city must oppose legislation that discriminates against transgender youth no matter what.

“We don’t have to wait to see what other cities do or what businesses want,” he said. “We need to oppose it.”

Only two members of the public commented on the resolution; both opposed it. The San Antonio Family Association, a socially conservative activist group, also released a statement before the council meeting urging the mayor and City Council to reject the resolution.

Councilman Clayton Perry (D10) cast the sole vote against the resolution. He did not make any comments about the resolution during the meeting, and later issued a statement explaining that he rarely supports any resolutions from City Council because they have little practical impact and “go beyond the ability and responsibility of Council.”

“This resolution, like many others that have come before Council, is an attempt to point fingers and place blame on our state and federal leaders,” he said in the prepared statement. “I fully support individuals’ first amendment rights and believe that issues like these should be handled on an individual basis. Personally, I have never shied away from writing letters to our leaders in Austin and D.C. to let them know where I stand on issues and encourage others to do the same.”

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.