S. Laney Griffo Jan. 11, 2017, 11:43am


AUSTIN – A new bill has been introduced to the Texas Legislature that would ban transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice in Texas schools.

“A school district or open-enrollment charter school shall adopt a policy requiring each multiple-occupancy bathroom or changing facility accessible to students that is located in a school or school facility to be designated for and used only by persons based on the person‘s biological sex,” the bill states.

Senate Bill 6 was written by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and announced on Jan. 5 by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

“After our success in stopping President Obama’s bathroom rules in court, states are now free to enact legislation of their choosing to protect privacy,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. “Texans should feel safe and secure when they enter any intimate facility, so I applaud the work of Lt. Gov. Patrick and Sen. Kolkhorst for fighting to protect women and children from those who might use access to such facilities for nefarious purposes.”

Texans have been generally supportive of anti-transgender legislation but certain groups, such as the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers, disagrees.

“Dan Patrick is waging a war on kids,” Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro said in a statement. “Under Patrick’s lack of leadership, we’ve seen a failure to provide resources needed for Child Protective Services, resulting in thousands of children in need of care and supervision, and kids forced to sleep in state offices.”

The Texas branch represents more than 65,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel and higher-education employees and is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, which has 1.6 million members.

“We’ve seen Medicaid cuts that are devastating to disabled children and a lack of school funding that has led to denial of special education services,” Malfaro continued. “And now while our school finance system remains outdated and woefully inadequate to provide our students with the support they need, our lieutenant governor is instead is fixated on passing a ‘bathroom bill.’”

The bill also requires people to use bathrooms based on biological sex in public buildings.

North Carolina passed a similar bill in 2016, which sparked a nationwide debate on the subject.

“After having watched the debacle in North Carolina, it is shocking that the lieutenant governor would be so intent on pursuing SB6,” Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director for the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement. “It’s unnecessary, discriminatory and inconsistent with the constitutional value of equal protection for all.”

 “And that’s to say nothing of the havoc it will wreak on the Texas economy should it pass,” Robertson continued. “Make no mistake — the invidious intent of SB6 is to deny transgender Texans the ability to participate in public life.”

The bill does allow for private businesses to make their own bathroom policies but the Texas Association of Business fears the financial repercussions of the bill.

The association said the bill will cost Texas “as much as $8.5 billion in GDP” and 185,000 jobs could be lost.

“The Texas State Legislature has exactly one constitutionally assigned duty: to pass a budget,” Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas said in a statement. “If they’re planning on spending the session on SB6 and spiteful legislation like it, we’d much rather they restrained themselves to that one duty, packed up their circus tents and went home.”

If passed, the bill would be effected Sept. 1.

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