The Texas Senate voted 21-10 on Tuesday to approve SB 3 — a so-called “bathroom bill” — which aims to prohibit transgender Texans from using restroom and changing facilities consistent with their gender identity, and to exclude transgender girls from playing sports with teammates who have the same gender identity.
It is yet one more example of extremely harmful, lie-fueled legislation designed to drive transgender people from public life.
As a proud born and raised Texan, I am appalled that our legislature has once again taken up this type of outrageous legislation. These legislators were sent to Austin to move Texas forward as representatives of our entire society and not to act as a small, ideology-based clique of folks who ignore facts and the overwhelming number of people who testified against this mean-spirited bill.
Importantly, it was not just parents, medical experts and advocates who showed up to the Capitol to oppose SB 3, but so did the business community, clergy, educators, elected leadership of cities, and huge numbers of everyday, Main Street Texans. When testimony was heard, 736 folks spoke in opposition and only 58 in favor. The compiled legislative record makes crystal clear that this proposal is incredibly irresponsible.
Here are six key reasons why.
- SB 3 would strip away the ability of cities, schools and other local entities to pass or enforce civil rights protections not already covered by state or federal law related to the designation or use of multiple-occupancy public restrooms, showers, and changing facilities.
- The bill’s sponsors claim they are trying to protect privacy and safety. But current laws already protect against predators in restrooms and other sex-separated spaces. There has been no showing whatsoever that those laws are insufficient.
- SB 3 would strip important civil rights protections that some Texas cities have had for LGBTQ people for more than a decade: Dallas 2002, Austin 2004 and Fort Worth 2000. The experiences of those cities proves that protecting transgender people puts no one else at risk but does dramatically improve day-to-day life for this marginalized population.
- Just three years ago, voters in Dallas approved a charter amendment that included protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and veteran status by a vote of 76% to 24%. SB 3 would override the will of the voters.
- SB 3 cruelly targets some of our state’s most vulnerable young people — transgender students. If enacted, it would inflict further stigma and pain on students who are simply trying to make it through the school day, get an education, and survive the mean-spirited accusations of some misguided adults.
- Non-discrimination cities of El Paso, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano have thriving economies at least in part because they have made clear that they are welcoming to everyone, which attracts talent and has given businesses added incentive to relocate to and/or to stay in these cities.
You see, y’all, the Texas “Lege” is supposed to be out for the summer because the regular legislature session ended back on May 29, 2017. But, because too many members were obsessed with this sort of divisive, utterly unnecessary proposal, they didn’t complete their work on bills essential for our state to function and were ordered back to work.
Now returned to Austin for a “special session,” instead of focusing on the measures they must pass to keep important parts of our government operating — let alone big picture issues facing Texans such as job creation, expanding access to healthcare and adequately funding education – they are focused on bathrooms and not classrooms.
Special sessions are supposed to be called for special circumstances requiring unusual action. Sadly, there is nothing required about this activity except that it should stop. Texas is about to create another version of a “show me your papers” law. But this time, instead of having to prove one’s citizenship or legal immigration status, everyone would have to carry their birth certificate simply to use the bathroom.