New education-related laws now in effect, one blocked in court

(The Center Square) – Three new education-related laws are now in effect. They require public higher education institutions to allow athletes to compete only according to their biological sex, to…

(The Center Square) – Three new education-related laws are now in effect. They require public higher education institutions to allow athletes to compete only according to their biological sex, to ban DEI policies and programs, and to impose restrictions on tenure.

A federal judge blocked one law from going into effect Sept. 1, which would ban and impose restrictions on public school libraries from having sexually explicit books.

The Save Women’s Sports Act prohibits biological men from competing on a team or as an individual against biological women in college sports. One day before Gov. Greg Abbot signed the bill into law, the Office of the Texas Attorney General filed its 50th lawsuit against the Biden administration over changes attempting to be made to Title IX. The 1972 federal law helped make women’s sports and other legal protections for women possible.

Two out of three American voters are not in favor of transgender female student athletes competing on women’s and girls’ sports teams, according to The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll of 2,500 registered voters across the U.S., conducted last month by Noble Predictive Insights.

Two bills filed by state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, to reform public higher education institutions in Texas also went into effect Sept. 1. One bans higher education institutions from implementing DEI policies; another revises the tenure structure.

SB 17 requires state-funded colleges and universities in Texas to close their DEI offices, end all activities that discriminate against students based on their race, ethnicity or gender, and eliminate diversity statements for job applicants and all mandatory DEI training.

SB 18 modernizes the tenure system by increasing the frequency and rigor of tenure review and establishes guidelines for colleges and universities to dismiss underperforming professors.

A federal judge recently blocked HB 900, the READER Act, from going into effect. It would ban sexually explicit books from being in public school and classroom libraries. It also would require independent bookstores, national chain bookstores, large online book retailers, book publishers and other vendors to review and rate millions of books and library materials for their sexual content if they are selling them to public schools. The law also includes parental rights provisions.

Several organizations sued to stop HB 900 from going into effect, arguing it could violate First Amendment free speech protections.

One of the plaintiffs, the Association of American Publishers, announced that the federal judge presiding over the case said on a Zoom call that he planned to grant a written order in “one to two weeks” to include “barring the implementation of a new Texas censorship law in its entirety. … In the interim, the state is enjoined from enforcement of any part of the law.”

In response to the judge’s verbal ruling, the plaintiffs issued a joint statement, saying they were “grateful for the Court’s swift action in deciding to enjoin this law, in the process preserving the long-established rights of local communities to set their own standards; protecting the constitutionally protected speech of authors, booksellers, publishers and readers; preventing the state government from unlawfully compelling speech on the part of private citizens; and shielding Texas businesses from the imposition of impossibly onerous conditions. We look forward to reading the court’s full opinion once it is issued.”

Rep. Jared Patterson also issued a statement, saying, “Earlier today, Trump-appointed Federal Judge Alan Albright of Austin issued an oral injunction against HB 900, also known as the READER Act. We look forward to reading his report expected in the coming weeks. The law was set to take effect September 1, 2023, but isn’t scheduled to be fully implemented until several hurdles are cleared in 2024. Therefore, this temporary delay will not derail our expectations.

“The READER Act is sound policy built upon multiple Supreme Court cases defending freedom of speech while understanding reasonable restrictions may be placed against obscene or pervasively vulgar content, especially as it relates to minors. As the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the State Board of Education continue their work on mandatory library standards, which should be voted on this November, I would encourage book vendors and the far-left activists funding this lawsuit to celebrate with caution. This case is far from over. We will continue to fight and we will win.

“Sexually explicit content has no home in our public schools.”