Texas has become the second state to pass a so-called “transgender bathroom bill,” but unlike North Carolina’s version, Texas’ is narrowly tailored to impact only public school students.
The bill, a brainchild of Texas’s Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, is designed, according to legislators, to protect the privacy rights of students who don’t want to share gender-segregated bathrooms, changing rooms, and locker room space with students who aren’t of the same biological sex.
A more sweeping measure, almost identical to North Carolina’s transgender bathroom bill, which would have prevented Texas residents from using bathrooms that comported with their gender identity rather than their biological sex, stalled out in the Texas Senate.
The new measure was passed as an amendment to an education budget bill, and included a provision requiring Texas public schools to provide private, single-stall bathrooms and separate changing spaces for transgender students.
Liberal-leaning legislators immediately drew connections to North Carolina’s bill, claiming that sectioning off transgender students sends a message that they are not welcome in Texas public schools. Some female legislators even used the men’s restroom at the Texas capitol in protest.
“This amendment was more about using trans kids as a negotiating tool at a contentious point in the session than about making kids safer,” Rep. Celia Israel, a leader in opposing the bill said. “It paints a target on the backs of already vulnerable children. We are getting rolled by the Senate, and transgender children are a part of that bargain. Texas is better than what the House did tonight.”
Supporters, however, claimed that the move is safer for all students, including both transgender students and those who may not be comfortable sharing intimate quarters with a member of the opposite sex, even if that person identifies as the same gender.
It also empowers public schools to use their own discretion in handling individual students needs, with supportive legislators claiming the measure will “allow schools to continue to handle sensitive issues as they have been handling them.”
Some of the same groups boycotting North Carolina over its transgender bathroom bill warned Texas that they may suffer the same consequences: lost conventions, events and corporate tax money. But the impact on North Carolina has been negligible, and Texas’s economy is one of the strongest in the union.
Texas also won’t face Federal consequences. President Donald Trump revoked an Obama-era measure requiring schools to allow transgender students to use facilities in line with their gender identity.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign the budget bill into law early this week, with the transgender bathroom provisions intact.