What’s being called a “watered down” version of the so-called bathroom bill passed the Texas House Sunday night.

 

With just one week left in the legislative session, lawmakers spent about two hours debating a measure that would dictate which bathroom transgender students can use in schools across the state.
The measure was tacked on to a bill that outlines emergency operations and other school safety regulations.

 

Some Democrats questioned why transgender bathroom use was an emergency response. But some Republicans defended the bill, saying it’s about protecting all Texas students who feel different.

 

“There is absolutely no intent in this language to discriminate,” argued the amendment’s author, Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall.

“If you are a biological boy and you wish not to use the boys’ restroom for whatever reason – transgender, shy, bullied – this says they will accommodate that child.”

 

The added language would require K-12 schools to provide single-stall restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities to a student “who does not wish” to use facilities designated by “biological sex.” The measure would override existing trans-inclusive policies at some school districts across the state.
Parents of transgender kids have pushed back, saying their children don’t want to be treated differently. Many sat in the gallery Sunday night watching the debate play out on the House floor.

 

And down on the House floor, bathroom bill opponents called the amendment discriminatory.
“The national ‘bathroom bill’ debate is driven by ambitious politicians exploiting fear and misunderstanding of transgender people,” Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, said in a statement.

“There is no room for compromise when it comes to discrimination.”

 

 

The state’s upper chamber passed a stricter bathroom bill earlier in the session. It’s been a top priority of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who has threatened to force a special session if a bill regulating bathrooms and a property tax reform measure don’t get passed.

 

The House also approved a scaled back property tax bill this weekend.

 

Until now, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, has been reluctant to have his chamber pass bathroom-related legislation. He has cited concerns of economic fallout after the business community came out against SB6, which would have regulated bathroom use in government buildings and public schools based on biological sex.

 

Speaker Straus released the following statement after the passage of Senate Bill 2078 on second reading:

“Representative (Chris) Paddie’s amendment will allow schools to continue to handle sensitive issues as they have been handling them. I believe this amendment will allow us to avoid the severely negative impact of Senate Bill 6. Members of the House wanted to act on this issue and my philosophy as Speaker has never been to force my will on the body. Governor Abbott has said he would demand action on this in a special session, and the House decided to dispose of the issue in this way.”

 

Limiting the measure to public schools appears to be the compromise to avoid a special session.

 

But LGBT rights groups have called it discriminatory and are threatening legal action. Even before the House started debate on the compromise measure Sunday, LGBT legal advocacy group Lambda Legal said in a statement “you can bet that Lambda Legal will be on the case before the next school bell rings.”

 

 

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