Trans students and mentors are not safe at FIRST Championship

This title isn’t clickbait, I’m asking genuinely.

This year’s championship is in Houston, and that’s for all teams (per the website and blog posts). However, the Governor of TX just released a wonderful little note that says that any form of affirming care for trans kids is child abuse.

(For the sake of those not more aware, trans children in almost all countries incl. the US essentially can’t get surgeries of any kind. However they are sometimes prescribed puberty blockers which delay a natal puberty to avoid them being subjected to a natal puberty they very clearly don’t want. The premise of this order is essentially to hurt trans kids.)

How this effects FIRST, you may ask, well… it makes it a reporting requirement for teachers and doctors. The note also says that parents supporting a kid who is trans is child abuse with all the limitations that carries. FIRST has plenty of teams in Texas, and this is on top of the bathroom bills of 2017/now, and the trans sports “debates” of more recent memory. Texas has had multiple attempts at bathroom bills fail, but this is just part of the ongoing stress that trans adults, and esp. trans kids face in the US.

The ACLU has said that this isn’t legal yet as Abbot’s memorandum is circulated, it’s still going to cause an incalculable amount of anguish for trans students while it’s fought in courts, who have already have endured quite a bit of strife in FIRST circles before.

In short; is there a safe way for trans students to attend the FIRST Championship without Texas mentors who are teachers / otherwise obligated being forced to report them under the absurd premise of child abuse?


Given this recent development, I am not sure having a Championship in Texas is at all compatible with FIRST’s goals of diversity and inclusion. It seems the event’s location is inherently dangerous for queer students and that to continue to hold the event in this state is to openly disregard their safety and well-being. I know it is extremely late in the process for any sort of change but I think FIRST needs to find some way to act to protect their queer students from the horrors of this state directive - including possibly relocating the Championship.


Certainly HQ can’t react to things so quickly that they’d be able to meaningfully change a championship-level event a few hours after news breaks on Twitter, but the continued assault on trans people in Texas over the last few years has not made FIRST look any better in maintaining a contract with the city of Houston for their marquee event. Especially not given the advent of the pandemic and the cancellation of the Detroit event this year, while Houston will still take place. It’s not difficult to infer that FIRST HQ has prioritized holding a championship event in 2022 at all costs, even if that puts some participants at risk.


The optics of the choice for Huston as the championship location seems to be driven only by the desire to hold the championship despite the pandemic, e.g. 'get all the registration fees, we know TX won’t cancel anything. ’ FIRST seems to be sacrificing many of the values they claim to hold in regards to inclusivity, gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and even basic public health and the scientific method. I will be disappointed if they don’t cancel or move CMP at this rate.


For starters there is absolutely no requirement for anyone to obey such an completely unjust, discriminatory, and hateful direction or law.

I am not so cynical about FIRST’s motives for holding Worlds in Houston. Organizing something this big is hard.

The minimum FIRST could do is issue LGBTQ+ and trans pride flag pins to every single person that participates and let Houston attempt to arrest the whole stadium. I know if I am so lucky to be at Worlds this year, you’ll find me walking around with a pride flag draped over my shoulders all week.


They will be safe. I think the more important question is, will they feel safe?


The last time my team attended the Championship in Houston, several students on my team were at the receiving end of a vile, racist tirade from a patron of a shopping mall. Is that person representative of Texas or all Texans? I sure hope not, but it breaks my heart that their achievement was tainted (not ruined, just tainted) by that experience. I wish FIRST chose to hold the event somewhere that isn’t quite so blatantly antagonistic toward our students – many of whom are PoC and immigrants – but I still believe the good outweighed the bad for them. We learned to take additional precautions as a result.

Trans people are not safe anywhere. That’s a fact of life, as difficult as it may be to accept, and I once again wish that FIRST would choose to hold its premiere event somewhere that better reflected the purported values of its leaders and its competitors.

But, again, we are kidding ourselves if we think that all of the teams in FIRST are aligned on these values. There’s a team in our region that is closely associated with an organization that lobbied heavily for discriminatory, anti-trans legislation in our state and my team, which has trans students, encounters this team frequently at competitions. I don’t blame their students for the work of their teachers and administrators, but it’s sometimes hard to reconcile how they have a place at the table.

I don’t have any useful answers. It’s not as simple as retreating to the safety of a like-minded bubble because that doesn’t do anything to help the people who are trapped in even more dangerous places.



So I made a mistake and went to look at the YPP program guide. Y’know, the 40-page PDF describing how mentors ideally behave. Pretty sure Texans have a pretty awful catch 22.


YPP Program Guide (page 11).

I fail to see how being required to out students is in compliance with the code of conduct, or how holding an event, namely their flagship event aligns with that and this context. So TX mentors break YPP or the executive order of Gov. Abbot; there’s no good way to deal with this as far as I can see. I really want to be wrong here.

If we do some quick napkin math, FIRST’s website says they reached 679k students in 2019-2020. If we take the range on estimates of trans, nonbinary and gender diverse populations in the US (.5% to ~2%) and do that as a function, FIRST has 3.3k to 13.6k YPP reports to file, on itself, for choosing this venue.

Real cool y’all.

Please tell me how. I want to believe you but the evidence is not there.


I believe that at the venue, they will physically be safe. im sure that very few if anyone participating in the event will allow any harm to come to anyone also participating. however unfortunately outside the venue im not 100% certain.


You’re making a bold assumption that everyone is on the same page about what constitutes harm…I think the existence of this order shows how incorrect that assumption is.


fair. I guess its more so that I hope anyone in the FIRST community would practice gracious professionalism and such.
obviously some students are more likely to partake in bullying, and we can’t stop them all. but we should try.


I can’t even confidently say that all mentors are on the same page after this thread, where I am called a bigot for saying I would not tolerate transphobic remarks on my team (after giving a hypothetical student time to stop after asking them to do so).

That was only 2 years ago.


As a non-profit, and not having any shareholders to answer to, FIRST should do what is in the best interest of continuing their stated objectives, and not be concerned with the financial burden it would cause.


I am not a mandatory reporter in my state, so all of what I write about the subject is worth what you paid for it.

Obviously, this issue potentially impacts students in Texas first and foremost, whether they’re FIRST participants or not. It’s abhorrent and I don’t have anything nice to say to anyone who thinks otherwise.

Teams visiting Texas – and the mandatory reporters accompanying them – are almost certainly bound by the reporting requirements of their employer and home state, right? It certainly can’t be that they are expected to understand and abide by the reporting requirements of any jurisdiction they enter. It seems pretty unlikely to me that mandatory reporters would feel compelled to say anything about their students once they set foot in Texas but not beforehand.

Similarly, if a mandatory reporter were to notify the appropriate parties about a student who did not reside in Texas, I would expect there’d be some hurdles there as well. It seems hard to imagine that Texas would just begin confiscating children while they’re on a field trip, but not hard enough.

I’ll say again that this is abhorrent, harmful rhetoric that will harm kids. It’s scary. But I don’t think we have to be particularly concerned about roaming bands of CPS case workers at the Championship event.


Just to be clear, the TX governor’s order deals specifically with gender reassignment procedures performed on minors. The legal opinion attached to his letter states that minors cannot chose this for themselves, so therefore it must be a parent or guardian that is choosing this for them. According to the letter and legal opinion, it is the parent or guardian that is in jeopardy here, not the child.

The letter makes it clear that the law in Texas already requires Teachers (and other licensed individuals like doctors) to report the parents to child protective services.

This is in fact something that mentors already have the responsibility to do if they suspect some other form of abuse inflicted on a student. From the YPP:

Communication & Reporting Requirements
Protecting children on a FIRST team from injury requires knowledge, judgment, and diligent oversight by adults who make it a priority to promptly report any concerns about potentially inappropriate behavior, and who listen carefully to indications or disclosures of behaviors or conditions that might lead to abuse or otherwise be unsafe.
Any adult working with a FIRST team who believes that a child may be the victim of, or at risk of, child abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual) from any source is required to immediately report their concerns. The individual reporting the possibility of abuse should not attempt to conduct an investigation or confront the suspected offender, even if he or she knows the person well.

The only thing that has potentially changed is that, according to this letter, in the state of Texas, gender reassignment procedures performed on children who are residents of Texas is now considered to fall under this umbrella of child abuse.

While I am not trying to defend the Governor in any way, I think we need to be clear that this is not an attack on trans children or trans adults. It is an attack on parents and guardians of such children who are doing their best to try to make the right decisions for their kids.

Since abuse against a student is already something that Mentors are required to report under the YPP, the only thing that FIRST can do is make it clear that this new ruling that places gender reassignment procedures into the realm of abuse is only applicable to students who reside in Texas. And therefore their mentors already must deal with the ramifications of this ruling regardless of whether they attend Champs or not. And Texas Child Protective services is not going to investigate the parents of any student attending Champs who resides outside of Texas.

Edit: Corrected my language by changing “surgeries” to the more accurate “procedures”. Thank you @Andrew_Schreiber and @CIM for pointing out my error. Apologies for not being more careful.


is already against the law to subject Texas children to a wide variety of elective procedures for gender transitioning, including reassignment surgeries that can cause sterilization, mastectomies, removals of otherwise healthy body parts, and administration of puberty-blocking drugs or supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen. See TEX. FAM. CODE § 261.001(1)(A)–(D) (defining “abuse”).

Did you read your own link? It is an opinion that hormone blockers are included along with surgery. So no. You are factually incorrect based on the source you provided.


This is absolutely not true, and is contradicted directly by the link you provided. If you continue to read the sentence in the letter, the order extends to parents who allow their children to receive hormone therapy or even (completely-reversible) puberty blockers.

Given the serious nature of the topic of this thread, please refrain from spreading misinformation like this, it can really dangerously misrepresent this important issue.


A little more clarification is in need here I believe.
The texas AG opinion states " variety of elective procedures for gender transitioning, including reassignment surgeries that can cause sterilization, mastectomies, removals of otherwise healthy body parts, and administration of puberty-blocking drugs or supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or estrogen."

i.e. more than just surgeries. The whole law is based on a presumption that the child (and their parent?) are incapable of something like informed consent to any affirming treatment.

As far as visiting teams are concerned, teachers/mentors/etc from outside of Texas are not covered by that part of this order.

In this subsection, “professional” means an individual who is licensed or certified by the state or who is an employee of a facility licensed, certified, or operated by the state […]
(src: TEX. FAM. CODE § 261.101 (b) )

although, the AG seems to more liberally construe their law to make all people mandated reporters. This section is far less fleshed out, ie it doesn’t include reporting timelines, or many of the other details.

A person having reasonable cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report as provided by this subchapter. (src: TEX. FAM. CODE § 261.101 (a) )

I personally would argue I did not have ‘reasonable cause to believe’, was I in the situation of being questioned wrt a trans student.

but take that all with a fat grain of “i’m not a lawyer” salt


I’m sorry Jsteel, but elected officials supposedly represent the majority of their constituency. As long as he is the governor of Texas and is enacting inhospitable laws and directives, then the assumption must be that it is what at least the majority of people in Texas want. It’s up to the population of Texas to correct it if there’s a problem. He has been your Governor since 2015.


I’ll pump the brakes on this a bit - Texas is not exactly a shining example of a representative democracy…