Five stories that have North Texas talking: Transgender wrestler wins controversial state title; Fort Worth’s Bill Paxton dies at 61; an author was trolled by a thousand Highland Park students; and more.
Mack Beggs, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Euless Trinity High School, won a Class 6A state girls championship wrestling title Saturday. His controversial victory against Chelsea Sanchez in the 110-pound weight class was punctuated with a mixture of boos and cheers, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
Beggs made it to the state tournament in Cypress, Texas after two female opponents forfeited. During the competition, he was met with questions and criticism concerning whether the testosterone he's taking as he transitions created an unfair advantage.
The Associated Press reports: “His family has said he would rather be wrestling boys, but state policy calls for students to wrestle against the gender listed on their birth certificates.” The University Interscholastic League, which oversees sports in Texas public schools, enacted the policy Aug. 1.
The UIL deputy director Jamey Harrison believes the outcome of the tournament was fair, despite concerns, according to AP. Beggs’ win arrives in the middle of fiery debate surrounding state and federal policies that affect the lives of transgender people. [The Associated Press, Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
NPR's Michel Martin talked with reporter Asa Merritt about Mack Beggs:
- Actor Bill Paxton, who played an astronaut in "Apollo 13" and a treasure hunter in "Titanic," has died from complications due to surgery. He was 61. A family representative issued a statement Sunday. Paxton, a Fort Worth native, appeared in dozens of popular movies and television shows in the last 40 years. As a boy, he was in the crowd that welcomed President John F. Kennedy in Texas on the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, hours before Kennedy was killed in Dallas. Paxton was acting in the CBS series “Training Day” at the time of his death. He was married to Louise Newbury and had two children. [KERA News]
- Author Jamie Ford said he was mocked by Highland Park High School students during a talk Thursday. Ford was in town for Highland Park’s literary festival, and he stopped by the school before the main event, which didn’t go well. On his personal blog, Ford explained that students were receptive to his talk until the concluding Q&A. “For twenty minutes, as I tried to wrap up my presentation, you clapped and cheered randomly, a thousand students, trolling me.” Ford said teachers and the principal just looked on. And it got worse. The school district released a statement Saturday, saying students’ behavior wasn’t “at the standard that we expect.” [KERA News]
- Justin Gable of Amarillo nabbed his first victory when he crossed the finish line at Fort Worth’s annual Cowtown Marathon. He finished at 2:28:00 on Sunday at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. And it was only Gable’s sixth attempt at running 26.2 miles, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. For his prize, he received the traditional black cowboy hat, the $1,500 first-place prize and $250 as the best finisher from Texas. Amy Puzey of Calgary, Alberta, Canada finished first among female participants at 3:01:29, followed by former TCU runner Tanja Ivandic. Women were awarded the same prize money. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
- More than 15,000 students were absent from Fort Worth schools on “A Day Without Immigrants.” On Feb. 16, immigrants and their families were encouraged to skip school and work, close their businesses and avoid shopping as part of a nationwide protest against actions taken by the Trump administration. The day was meant to show the impact of immigrants not only on the economy but also in everyday life. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the school board will vote this week on a resolution to declare the district ‘welcoming and safe’ for all students, regardless of their immigration status. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]