Texas House Passes ‘Bathroom Bill’ Targeting Public Schools

Critics said the House and Senate versions of the bill undermined civil rights and used children as political pawns.


(Reuters) — The Texas House of Representatives gave formal approval on Monday to a bill that would restrict bathroom access for transgender students in public schools, a measure that critics say promotes discrimination against such children.

The state’s Republican-controlled legislature has been at the forefront in advancing measures seen by backers as protecting traditional values and religious liberty but criticized by civil rights groups as eroding protections for LGBT people.

The Texas House gave preliminary approval on Sunday night to the bill, which requires public school students to use bathrooms, changing facilities and locker rooms that match their biological sex, not the gender with which they identify.

The measure is narrower in scope than a bathroom bill passed along mostly party lines by the state Senate in March that extended to state universities and public buildings.

The Senate bill is similar to one enacted last year in North Carolina. The North Carolina law prompted economic boycotts and the loss of sporting events, and was later revamped in the face of criticism.

The more limited House measure is seen as a way to avoid an economic backlash in Texas, analysts said.

“It is absolutely about child safety,” Republican state Rep. Chris Paddie, who managed the bill, said in House debate on Sunday.

The measure heads back to the Senate for consideration of changes made since it was in that chamber. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has said he supports a bathroom bill.

Critics said the House and Senate versions undermined civil rights and used children as political pawns.

“There is no moral middle ground on discrimination, ” said Kathy Miller, president of the civil liberties advocacy group Texas Freedom Network.

The legislature on Monday also sent to the governor a bill allowing adoption agencies to reject families on religious grounds, an action slammed by critics as discriminatory against LGBT Texans and non-Christians.

LGBT rights groups said they would challenge the adoption bill in court if it became law, arguing discrimination in the name of religion had no place in the state.

The bill’s backers, which include several Christian groups, said it banned no one and had a mechanism for the state government to offer alternative adoption providers if any service is denied for religious beliefs.

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  • I read an interesting article yesterday regarding bathroom bills and their impact on the disabled. As a mother of a child with a disability it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure the time will come. I take my son with me into the bathroom. While he doesn’t need help handling his functions. He does need help with washing his hands. AND, because he is non-verbal, and has autism, there is a delay in his understanding of social settings, etc. So, I am TERRIFIED at the prospect of him having to go into a men’s room without supervision. So, for now, and for as long as this is a worry, he will accompany me into the women’s room or into a family restroom when the option is available. I am not afraid to be confronted or to respond. But I know other special needs moms who aren’t as able to defend themselves and their decisions / needs.

    However, what about adults, or older children that need a greater level of assistance? If that person is unable to navigate clothing or clean up appropriately, then a full time aid or caregiver is needed. And if that’s the case, often the caregiver especially of an adult may be of a different sex than the person being cared for. So, in older buildings with no family bathrooms, what are those people supposed to do?

    • The disabled people you describe will have to suffer, just as this bill is intended to make transsexual kids suffer (even more than they already do). The disabled are merely collateral damage inconveniently littering the path of the partisan political hacks in Texas who are hell-bent in making symbolic theatrical gestures to please their base. I’m a Texan and am deeply ashamed of my State’s so-called leaders.

    • TRISH–All your statements are LOGICAL and RATIONAL.
      I regret to inform you that we do NOT use the “L word” or the “R word” in government.
      Many of these legislators have never been caregivers, so they cannot and do not
      understand what it means to assist others of the opposite sex with bathroom issues.
      You may now return to your logical and rational thoughts, as your cortex appears to be
      in perfect working order.

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