Metro Weekly

Texas Senate plans to reject “compromise” bathroom amendment

Republicans will push for greater restrictions on transgender people in Texas

Texas Sen. Larry Taylor – Photo: Friends of Larry Taylor.

The bathroom wars in the Texas legislature continue to rage.

According to the Texas Tribune, the state Senate will reject a “compromise” that saw House members pass restrictions on transgender bathroom use.

Despite getting the House of Representatives to pass the measure, which the House Speaker once called “unnecessary,” Republican senators apparently feel those restrictions don’t go far enough.

Following threats by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott to keep lawmakers in Austin for a special summer session if they did not pass some type of restrictions, House Republicans voted to add an amendment to SB 2078, a bill dealing with school emergency response plans.

It requires that students in public or charter schools must use facilities that match their biological sex at birth. However, if a child, such as a transgender student, “does not wish” to use those facilities, he or she will be able to use single-stall restrooms.

House Republicans hailed the amendment as a compromise, providing alternative arrangements for transgender children while keeping biological sex as the basis for admission to multi-user restrooms. Additionally, they noted, it only deals with schools, and does not place any restrictions on localities in Texas that affect their ability to pass nondiscrimination ordinances as they see fit.

But Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), the sponsor of SB 2078, finds that unacceptable, and has requested that the bill go to conference committee to work on the “wording” of the amendment.

Taylor said the amendment “really doesn’t do anything. You have to have a separate facility but no one is required to go there.”

As a result, Lt. Gov. Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus would have to appoint representatives from their respective chambers to come up with language that would be acceptable to both sides.

The more conservative Senate Republican caucus would prefer language like that contained in SB 6, a “bathroom bill” championed by Patrick and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), which would force transgender Texans of all ages to use only those facilities that match their biological sex, and would apply to all public or government buildings in the state.

SB 6 would also prevent localities from passing any LGBTQ-inclusive ordinances — not just those that relate to public accommodations, but those that provide protections in employment, housing, or any other facets of life where LGBTQ people might be discriminated against.

It remains to be seen whether House lawmakers will agree to a conference committee on the bill, though Abbott, who has called for stricter bathroom restrictions for transgender people, seems intent on calling a special session if they don’t.

Chuck Smith, the CEO of Equality Texas, lambasted both the House and Senate amendments as blatant discrimination.

“No amount of discrimination is acceptable. There is no middle ground. All discrimination is bad, full stop,” Smith said in a statement. “Targeting some of the most vulnerable children in our state is abhorrent, shameful, and disgraceful. The Texas lawmakers of the 85th legislative session are on the wrong side of history.”

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