Speed Reads

Bathroom politics

Texas takes a major step toward enacting its own transgender 'bathroom' law

On Sunday night, the Texas House approved 91-50 an amendment that would prohibit transgender students at public and charter schools to use the restroom or locker room that matches their gender identity, overriding any local school district accommodations. Transgender students will be directed to use single-occupancy restrooms and locker rooms, said the amendment's sponsor, Rep. Chris Paddie (R), who insisted that it has "absolutely no intent" to discriminate and is "absolutely about child safety."

The broader bill, on public school emergency preparedness, is expected to be approved Monday, and easily clear the Senate, which passed a broader, North Carolina–style transgender bathroom bill, SB 6, earlier this year. House Speaker Joe Straus (R) opposed that bill — a priority for Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and especially Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) — and it never came up for a House vote. Along with Straus and the Texas legislature's badly outnumbered Democrats, the transgender bathroom bill is opposed by major companies, chambers of commerce, and the NFL and NBA. That's no small matter, The Associated Press notes. "Since 2004, Texas has hosted more combined Super Bowls, NBA All-Star Games (three), and NCAA men's Final Fours (five) than any other state."

Supporters of the Paddie amendment say it splits the difference between no ban and SB 6, suggesting is should meet less resistance because it would only affect children. Straus said in a statement that the amendment "will allow us to avoid the severely negative impact" of SB 6. Abbot had made clear "he would demand action on this in a special session, and the House decided to dispose of the issue in this way," he added. Opponents disagreed. "Let's be honest and clear here: This amendment is the bathroom bill, and the bathroom bill is an attack on transgender people," said Rep. Joe Moody (D). "Some people don't want to admit that. Maybe that's because they're ashamed, but make no mistake about it — this is shameful." Texas has about 5.3 million kids in public school.