Texas House Passes Bill Extending Alternative High School Graduation Route

The Texas House gave final approval Monday morning to a bill banning transgender-friendly bathrooms in the state's public schools, turning down one final Democratic amendment that would have allowed schools to opt out of the law.

After a final vote in the House, the bill will go back to the Senate, where the upper chamber will decide whether to accept the amendment. If passed into law, the bill will impact Texan public schools. Rep. Chris Paddie, the Republican from Marshall who authored the amendment, said it would allow all students access to a single-stall bathroom or empty multi-stall facility, including those who are shy, have a colostomy bag or have other reasons they might want privacy. "This is about accommodating all kids", said Paddie.

And just to make a point about male lawmakers regulating women's health care, Rep. Jessica Farrar, a Democrat, proposed a bill to fine a man $100 every time he masturbates.

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. The Senate had a larger bill that would have required people to use all public restrooms of the sex they were born with.

Gov. Greg Abbott, who was largely silent on the issue throughout the legislative session, recently endorsed the bathroom legislation as a priority, but his office has insisted that he believes the legislation could be passed during the regular legislative session. As part of the bill, schools must also provide a private bathroom for transgendered students to use if they need one.

According to an analysis released by the Associated Press, the legislation cost North Carolina more than $3.76 billion in lost business over the next 12 years, as organizations including the NCAA pulled events out of the state. "Bathrooms divided us then and bathrooms divide us now ..." House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, has been vocal in his opposition, warning it could hurt the Texas economy that has been among the country's strongest in recent years.

"They failed to get the broad exclusion of transgender people from society they desired and settled for placing vulnerable trans children at heightened risk of bullying and psychological trauma", Herbst said.

The Texas Freedom Network is a group of community leaders who support religious freedom and individual liberties.

The panel's chairman, Dan Huberty, R-Humble, said he was "very disappointed" the Senate stripped much of the House's version of the bill originally meant to begin changing a school funding formula the Texas Supreme Court ruled was constitutional, though Byzantine and in need of fix.

The vote came in the eleventh hour, after Dan Patrick had threatened Wednesday to force a special session if the House didn't vote on two pieces of Senate legislation, a property tax reform bill and the bathroom bill.

"Transgender children aren't bargaining chips for lawmakers to trade, and their safety and dignity are non-negotiable", Robertson said in a statement.

  • Joanne Flowers