Republicans Beat the Buzzer with Girls' Sports Win

Republicans Beat the Buzzer with Girls' Sports Win

October 18, 2021

Plenty of parents have been fed up with Joe Biden's fixation on letting boys into girls' private spaces. But after the rape of one teenage girl in Loudoun County schools and the sexual assault of another, even fewer states are buying the line that the Left's radical transgender policies don't hurt anyone. If anything, it made states like Texas even more motivated to keep the two sexes separate -- like voters demand, and students deserve.

It took four tries, but on Sunday, Lone Star Republicans (and a few Democrats) could finally celebrate the passage of a girls' sports bill almost a year in the making. For members of the Texas House, that meant a draining, 10-hour debate that pit Biden's party against common sense. For State Rep. Valoree Swanson (R) and State Sen. Charles Perry (R), who'd fought tooth and nail for this moment, it was "a long time coming." Getting the bill through the House had been a major challenge this year, thanks to leading Democrats on the Public Education Committee who seemed determined to crush the dreams of female athletes.

This time around, conservatives tried a different approach: sending the bill through the Select Committee on Constitutional Rights, which happened to be chaired by a Republican, state Rep. Trent Ashby. When it looked like this version might actually have a shot, Perry and Swanson raced to capitalize on the special session Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) had called. "Moving with haste," Austin reporters noted, Republicans hurried to use the last window of opportunity they might have.

"We need a statewide level playing field," Swanson insisted during a debate that turned intensely emotional. Sticking close to the script, Biden's party argued the bill was a solution to a problem that didn't exist. We should be addressing real issues, Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D) scoffed, "not some boogeyman threat to little girls that doesn't exist." State Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D) piled on, calling it a "non-issue" that's just used "to gin up hate."

By then, Republicans had heard enough. "Our constituents expect us to see problems that are coming and not wait until there's a disaster until everything falls apart, and then try to fix it," Swanson fired back. And, "What about the females that are trying to play sports and compete and get scholarships, and they're forced to play against people that are created differently. Are you thinking about them at all?" Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R) asked Rosenthal. "Are you concerned about them at all, sir?"

Turns out, enough of the assembly was concerned to pass the bill 76-61 (with the help of Democrat Rep. Ryan Guillen) and send it over to the state senate late Friday night. There, in a night-and-day contrast from the other chamber, the two parties skipped debate and voted to advance the legislation 19-12 -- with one Democrat, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, breaking with his party to support it. "A lot of times we say bills are transformational," Perry told reporters afterward. "This is actually one that drew the line in the sand: that biological females should stay with biological females and biological males should stay with biological males." When the media pushed back, arguing that Texas could lose their hosting rights for NCAA championships and other sporting events, Perry said simply, "Sometimes, things are worth more than money."

Abbott obviously agrees. For weeks, he refused to bend on a bill that it was obvious woke members were going to fight him on. After statehouse Democrats fled the Capitol in protest this summer -- eating up more than a month of the legislative clock -- the governor refused to bend, adding the girls' sports issue to the agendas of all three special sessions he's called. As early as April, Abbott pointed out in a Fox News townhall that, "For five years, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) in Texas has had a rule in place prohibiting boys from playing girls in girls' sports. "But the Texas Legislature is working on a bill to codify that, which I will sign."

When he does, it will send a resounding message from America's second largest state (and arguably the biggest where high school and collegiate sports are concerned) that standing up for women's rights and safety matters. If the Left wants to continue sacrificing our daughters on the altar of radical transgenderism, they can pay the political price. It's when they insist there is no problem -- like Democrats in Texas, Virginia, and all across the country have done -- that ensures young women will be the ones paying for it.

Robert Stein, a political science professor at Houston's Rice University, sounded an awful lot like embattled Loudoun County Superintendent Scott Ziegler, when he said, "There's no evidence that there's a problem." But the problem exists all right -- and in too many places, girls have the scars to prove it. How many more young women need to be raped, violated in their locker rooms, knocked off their sports' top standings, or disqualified from scholarships because Democrats want to be "welcoming and affirming?"

Texas just took an important step by telling Democrats, "Hands off our female athletes." Forty more states should be pressured to do the same.


Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


School Boards Splinter as Anti-Parent Letter Explodes

October 18, 2021

When the National School Boards Association (NSBA) wrote to President Biden on September 29, they never expected it would blow up in their face. But given that the letter called on the federal government to investigate parents as "domestic terrorists" for speaking out at school board meetings, it's worth asking: what did they think would happen? Maybe they believed Washington's heavy jackboots would stamp out the last dying embers of the flame of liberty as they rode off into the sunset of their progressive utopia.

But that's not what happened. When, a mere six days after the letter, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Department of Justice would investigate parents as domestic terrorists, moms and dads were outraged. "The enemy has no chill," warned Florida mom Quisha King during one of the education panels at FRC's Pray Vote Stand Summit. "You're at home trying to make peanut butter sandwiches for your kids, and the FBI could be knocking at your door because you might have said the wrong thing at a school board meeting."

It's no surprise that parents took offense at the prospect of the FBI investigating them as domestic terrorists. The NSBA probably expected that when they penned the letter. But in the past week, Parents Defending Education has unearthed powerful new opponents of the NSBA letter: school boards. "As of October 16," they wrote, state school board associations in "18 states have distanced themselves from the NSBA's letter: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming."

Most of the state associations issued statements in response to an inquiry from Parents Defending Education saying that they were not consulted about the letter or that they disapproved of its content. Virginia had already issued a statement to that effect on October 6. On October 4, Louisiana went further, declaring that it had "not yet paid membership dues" and would "reevaluate the benefits of continued membership in the NSBA." But the Pennsylvania School Boards Association went further, voting unanimously on Thursday to withdraw from the NSBA.

"The most recent national controversy surrounding a letter to President Biden suggesting that some parents should be considered domestic terrorists was the final straw," they wrote. "Attempting to solve the problems with a call for federal intervention is not the place to begin, nor a model for promoting greater civility and respect for the democratic process."

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association's decision to disassociate from the national organization is likely due in part to the letter's pitiful compilation of instances, most of which were simply raised voices or strong language. The only incident in which any parent was actually arrested was when the Loudoun County School Board shut down the public comment period hours ahead of time to prevent a father from disclosing how they had covered up his daughter's rape by a boy wearing a skirt in the girl's bathroom.

It's time that parents stand up against this insanity. Educating children and keeping them safe should not be partisan activities. The NSBA has gotten its knuckles rapped for its grotesque attack on parents but more action is needed. No school board association, at the state or local level, should maintain its affiliation with an organization that has proven itself deaf to the concerns of parents. Parents and other concerned citizens should find out if their local community or state association is a member of the NSBA (sample letter here), and if so demand an end to that relationship, and they should demand that the NSBA be defunded and ineligible for taxpayer dollars.


Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Apple Enables China's War on Faith in Its App Store

October 18, 2021

Last week, it was reported that a Bible app and Quran app had been removed from Apple's App Store in China following pressure from the Chinese government. This is hardly surprising behavior from the Chinese Communist Party. But now, an American company has been enlisted to do its dirty work.

The watchdog group Apple Censorship was the first to report that the apps, Bible App by Olive Tree and Quran Majeed, had been taken down. When Apple removed the Quran app, the app makers were told it contained content that is illegal in China. China's restrictions on religious texts have affected those of all faiths, sometimes brutally so. In Xinjiang, Uyghur Muslims who are caught with religious content on their phones can be detained without trial in an internment camp.

Leaders at Olive Tree removed the Bible app themselves. "Olive Tree Bible Software was informed during the App Store review process that we are required to provide a permit demonstrating our authorization to distribute an app with book or magazine content in mainland China," a spokesperson told BBC News. "Since we did not have the permit and needed to get our app update approved and out to customers, we removed our Bible app from China's App Store." They ultimately hope they can get the app back on the App Store.

This seems unlikely, as the Chinese government has ramped up restrictions limiting Chinese citizens' access to the Bible overall. Physical copies of the Bible can no longer be purchased online in China, Christian businessmen have been prosecuted for selling audio Bibles online, and the Chinese Communist Party has announced that it is developing its own version of the Bible that will embrace socialist values.

The Chinese government's crackdown on citizens' access to religious texts is continuing. With Apple's removal of the Quran app and Olive Tree's self-censorship, Chinese government pressure is now forcing American companies to do the censoring for them.

This comes at a time when free expression online is under attack around the world. Freedom House's Freedom of the Net 2021 report found that "[m]ore governments arrested users for nonviolent political, social, or religious speech than ever before." And for the seventh year in a row, China has the single worst conditions for internet freedom. Instead of enabling this problem, American corporations like Apple should be fostering freedom of expression abroad, including religious expression.

Although American corporations regularly advocate for progressive policies at home, they often neglect to take strong stances against authoritarian regimes abroad. Last November, Apple went so far as to lobby to weaken the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, a bill that would block products made using the forced labor of Uyghur Muslims from entering the United States. Apple seems to be putting profits before human rights, whether it comes to removing religious apps at the Chinese government's request or profiting from modern-day slavery in China.

Last month, Apple and Google deleted a Russian political opposition app from their app stores after Russian censors demanded it. These acts of cowardice are troubling. Do American corporations really want to take on the role of censors for freedom-hating regimes?

Apple and other American companies need to grow a spine and stand up to authoritarian regimes intent on exerting control at the expense of basic freedoms such as freedom of expression and religious freedom. They must do a better job at pushing back against the Chinese government and other bad actors. Otherwise, they will make themselves complicit in facilitating human rights abuses against people around the world. American companies can do better, and American customers should demand that they do.