Texas bathroom bill could expose secrets of transgender kids

While the "bathroom bill" would override some state school district policies that allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, Republican Texan politicians said the bill was created to protect the privacy and safety of students. "Bathrooms divided us then and bathrooms divide us now ..."

Senfronia Thompson, a Democratic representative, said during a debate on the floor that the bill evoked memories of when facilities were segregated by race across the country during the Jim Crow era.

State Rep. Chris Paddie of Marshall, the Republican who wrote the amendment, said it is "absolutely about child safety. about accommodating all kids", the AP reports.

But critics of the bill say it would effectively enable state-funded adoption agencies to turn away single, gay or non-Christian people. "Either you discriminate, or you don't". However, the measure stalled in the House. After that, it will go to the Texas Senate.

The battle, and the rhetoric, should only heat up before the legislative session ends next week.

Before taking a final vote on SB 2078 Monday, the House turning down one final Democratic amendment that would have allowed schools to opt out of the law.

"We have been clear that discriminatory legislation would have a chilling effect on economic development, make recruitment and retention more hard, and stifle investment in Texas", Wallace said.

The Texas Legislature advanced the bathroom bill after Patrick threatened to return lawmakers to a special session if Senate Bill 6, a standalone bathroom bill, and Senate Bill 2, a property tax bill, weren't passed, according to the Texas Tribune.

It cleared the House on Monday and now heads back to the state Senate - which has sought even stricter bathroom requirements. It only applies to K-12 schools, rather than all public buildings, and it doesn't overturn non-discrimination ordinances passed by local governments. Forcing children to use bathrooms that are different from other students, however, puts them in the position of being inherently different and opens them up to all kinds of questioning, bullying and potential ostracism from their peers.

The legislation requires individuals to use bathrooms associated with their "biological sex" - the gender they were assigned at birth.

But civil rights groups have criticized the measure as funding discrimination with public money. Some 32 percent of respondents said they'd limited food or drink in order to avoid a trip to a public bathroom. It's also smaller in scope than a law that passed with enormous backlash, and was later partially repealed, in North Carolina.

"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. "That's not just wrong and abusive: it's also begging to be sued".

  • Joanne Flowers