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San Antonio City Council Supports Transgender Youth With New Resolution

San Antonio's City Council for the 2021-2023 term
Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Members of the San Antonio City Council pose for an official city photo in June 2021

The San Antonio City Council has approved a resolution in support of transgender youth.

The council passed the resolution 10-1 to voice opposition to bills in the Texas legislature that would prohibit transgender students from participating on sports teams that align with their gender identity. The resolution states that bills — like Senate Bill 3 — are harmful to the LGBTQ+ community and anti-trans legislation is an attack on the safety of trans youth.

SB 3 is the reiteration of multiple similar other bills that failed to pass the first two special sessions this year. It requires student athletes to play on teams that match their sex assigned at birth. This is now the third time Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has set it a priority in his special session agendas.

Typically, the council approves most agenda items en masse without special attention, but San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the resolution deserved to be discussed and highlighted.

“For several state legislative sessions, there has been effort by some to create solutions for problems that don’t exist and scapegoat the transgender community for political gain,” Nirenberg said, mentioning the previous “bathroom bill” that failed in 2017 among other bills.

Read the resolution here.

The passage of the resolution allows the city to take a public stance against the bill — and others like it — and sign on to opposition letters.

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“It speaks to the city's existing nondiscrimination ordinance and a desire to protect and care for the children in our community who may be harmed by legislation that is deemed discriminatory,” Assistant City Manager Jeff Coyle told council members.

SB 3 passed the Texas Senate last week with a vote of 19-12. Bexar County’s Democratic state senators — Jose Menendez, Judith Zaffarini, and Roland Gutierrez — all voted against the bill with the county’s lone Republican state senator Donna Campbell voting in favor. It’s now been referred to the public education committee in the Texas House.

The resolution received wide support from city council members. District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez said bills like SB 3 would send the message that Texas revels in hurting vulnerable people. “What we have is a real domestic violence crisis on our hands. We have a very real homelessness crisis. We're experiencing a very real sex trafficking crisis and a very real veteran opioid and mental health crisis,” the councilman said. “What we're not facing is a ‘transgender in sports’ crisis because it doesn't exist. Anyone who tells you that this is a problem in Texas is misinformed or, in the case of (Lt. Governor) Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott, is trying to misinform you.”

District 9 Councilman John Courage and District 2 Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez are both former teachers. The council members highlighted their experience in the classroom.

Courage was a coach for 15 years.

“This is not an attempt for some boy to sneak into the girls restroom or to play on a girl's sports team so they can go look at them in the restroom,” he said “This is simply people who are fighting to identify themselves for the rest of their lives and want to live their lives like everybody else.”

McKee-Rodriguez, the only open member of the LGBTQ+ community on the city council, said students in his classes felt safer when they could identify as who they are.

“I think that same level of comfort that they felt, the same level of safety that they felt, knowing that I was on their side and knowing that I was with them, I think that as a city we have a responsibility to. To give that same energy and to make people feel that same way,” he said.

District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry was the only “no” vote. In a statement Perry said he seldom supports resolutions brought to the city council.

“Oftentimes, these resolutions bare no teeth and go beyond the ability and responsibility of Council. Potential legislation regarding this issue is currently under review at the State legislature,” he said in a written statement. “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.”

The resolution had received opposition from the San Antonio Family Association, which staged a small protest outside of city council chambers on Wednesday evening before Thursday’s council vote.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules