NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – State lawmakers return to Austin next week to start their 30-day special session.
Among the bills Governor Abbott has asked them to pass involves bathroom privacy.
On Monday, Republican State Representative Ron Simmons of Carrollton filed HB 46 and HB 50. If approved, they would supersede existing city and county ordinances and school district policies offering protections to a class of people not covered by federal and state law.
While the bills don’t mention transgender men, women, and children, they could impact the bathrooms and locker-rooms they use.
Reverend Mark Wingfield of the Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas worries the bills would tear the state apart. “The mainstream faith community wants to bring Texas together.”
Now, a group Wingfield is a part of, Texas Impact, the state’s oldest and largest interfaith advocacy network is starting a campaign against the bills called “Mainstream, Not Extreme.”
“This bathroom bill is mean, it is discriminatory. It is unnecessary, it is divisive,” says Wingfield.
Republican State Representative Matt Krause of Fort Worth says he supports bathroom privacy legislation because women and children need to be protected. “To me, this is not about the transgender community. This is not about discriminating against anybody.”
But Rachel Gonzales says the bills are a major concern. She worries the accommodations in school for her 7-year-old daughter, who is transgender, could be changed. “Her schools know her, teachers know her, her classmates know her and it’s a non-issue. There’s no reason she should be going to the boys restroom and somebody sitting in the Governor’s seat in Austin has no business telling my daughter where she needs to go to the bathroom.”
Representative Krause says he favors having one consistent law statewide involving adults, but when it comes to individual students’ needs in schools, he says, “These laws wouldn’t take away from those reasonable accommodations. It’s just saying you’re not going to have a policy that’s contrary to state public policy.”
Krause says he doesn’t think HB 46 & HB 50 will attract any backlash from the NFL or other sports leagues.
Convention and Visitors Bureaus across the state have warned the state could lose conventions if the bills become law.
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