Texas advances school transgender bathroom law

Posted May 24, 2017

KVUE's Ashley Goudeau said the House voted 94-51 on the final reading of the bill Monday.

The legislation, now moving to the Senate requires public high school students to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.

The Texas House already approved HB3859 by a 93-49 vote earlier this month.

"Five other states have passed similar laws protecting faith-based adoption organizations that refuse to place children with gay parents or other households on religious grounds - but Texas' rule would extend to state-funded agencies".

"I would think it's unprecedented that this many actions by the Legislature will be contested in court", said state Rep. Chris Turner, the Democratic leader in the Texas House of Representatives.

In February, the Trump administration rescinded guidance issued by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice last May telling schools to provide transgender students with facilities that correspond with their gender identity.

But Democratic lawmakers compared the bill to Jim Crow-era policies.

"We talk about local control on this floor, but that goes far out the window when there are political points to be scored", said Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, author of the proposed amendment.

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Some 60 percent of transgender Americans say they have avoided using a public restroom out of fear of violence or confrontation, according to a survey published past year by the National Center for Transgender Equality.

"I believe this amendment will allow us to avoid the severely negative impact of Senate Bill 6".

The legislation to allow religious exemptions for adoption and foster care has passed the Senate on Monday and now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

"Civil rights groups criticized the measure, which they say is likely to lead to discrimination and bullying against transgender students".

North Carolina a year ago became the first state to limit transgender bathroom access in public buildings. It does allow those students to use a multi-occupancy bathroom if no one else is using it.

The bill's sponsor, Senator Charles Perry, a Republican from Lubbock, told colleagues that his proposal is "not meant to discriminate" against anyone and repeatedly told Democrats that it would put the child's needs first.

School groups agree because providing single-stall facilities for students seeking bathroom-related accommodations is something school districts "would do anyway", so the amendment doesn't make a "significant change" on that front, said Jennifer Canaday, governmental relations director for the Association of Texas Professional Educators. With one week left to go before the Texas legislature closes down its regular session, the proposal seemed ready to die.

After witnessing North Carolina's experience - losing over $3 billion as a result of boycotts, according to an Associated Press analysis - lawmakers in states across the country have been reluctant to take a stance on the transgender bathroom debate for fear of public backlash.