Texas

Dueling Safety Fears Dominate Opening Of Senate “Bathroom Bill” Hearing

Supporters of the measure argued SB 6 is necessary to protect women from sexual predators. Opponents countered it would aggravate the dangers to transgender individuals.

The Texas Senate is hearing testimony on the so-called bathroom bill. Senate Bill 6 would require individuals to use the bathroom or changing facility of the gender on their birth certificate. It’s become a flashpoint over questions of LGBT rights and personal safety.

The measure would apply only to public schools and government buildings. Private businesses would be free to set their own policies. Senator Lois Kolkhorst, the bill’s author, said the measure is strictly about protecting privacy in the most intimate public places.

“I don’t want to speak for all females,” Kolkhorst said, “but it’s a place that I find myself, many of us find ourselves find ourselves vulnerable. And I really don’t want a man in our dressing room. I don’t want, when I go work out at night, in a locker room. I don’t want them there in the shower facility, and I don’t want them there in the restroom.” She cited several recent cases where women or girls had been attacked or secretly filmed in restrooms or changing areas.

Kolkhorst said, contrary to media accounts, the bill is not primarily about transgender individuals. Senator José Rodríguez, a West Texas Democrat, took issue with that, noting, “individuals, including some that I hired, who interned in my office, in the district office in El Paso, who identify as transgender, and who have been subjected to violent physical assaults by being forced to go into the bathroom that they’re not identifying with.”

Rodríguez has put forward his own bill (SB 165), which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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