Republican lawmakers in Texas filed a bill Thursday similar to the controversial law in North Carolina known as HB2 that would keep transgender individuals from using the public restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
The bill, called the Privacy Protection Act, would mandate that people use the bathroom in schools and government buildings that correspond to their “biological sex” and would bar local governments from enacting ordinances allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice. The legislation would allow schools to accommodate transgender students with a single-occupancy bathroom or other arrangement and also establishes fines for schools or agencies that do not comply.
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick unveiled the legislation at a press conference and argued that the bill is needed to prevent predators. He also suggested that the state legislation is only necessary due to local ordinances addressing transgender bathroom use.
“Transgender people have obviously been going into the ladies’ room for a long time, and there hasn’t been an issue that I know of,” Patrick said at the press conference, according to Austin television station KVUE. “But if laws are passed by cities and counties and school districts that allow men to go into a bathroom because of the way they feel, we will not be able to stop sexual predators from taking advantage of that law, like sexual predators take advantage of the internet.”
State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst filed the bill on Thursday despite opposition from business groups like the Texas Association of Business. Passage of HB2 hurt the North Carolina economy when major national companies cancelled plans to do more business in the state.
Patrick has been at the forefront of conservative opposition to laws accommodating transgender individuals. Patrick called the debate over bathroom use by transgender individuals “the biggest issue facing families and schools in America since prayer was taken out of public schools.”
Texas led a group of states in filing a lawsuit against an Obama administration policy requiring public schools to allow transgender students to used the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. A federal judge in Texas has barred enforcement of that Education Department policy.