Bathroom bill passes Texas Senate, heads to House

The transgendered community’s expression of gender identity was dealt a blow March 15 when the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 6 (SB6) with a vote of 21-10. Also nicknamed the “bathroom bill,” SB6 requires people to use multiple-occupancy public facilities based on their biological sex. In the bill, “biological sex” is the gender on an individual’s birth certificate.

Republican Senator Lois Kolkhorst, the author of SB6, is concerned that some people will take advantage of “open policies,” or using a public bathroom, dressing room or locker room intended for the opposite sex, and that the bill is not intended to be discriminatory. 

“We hear passions on both sides of the issue. This is about privacy and protection for all people,” said Kolkhorst. “The voters know that the safety of our children and personal privacy should be at the forefront of what we do here.” 

While this bill addresses safety concerns, some Texas senators stated their opposition to the bill. Some criticized the bill as being “weak” while others discussed a possible negative economic impact on hospitality, tourism and sporting events. 

According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) it is estimated that San Antonio alone could lose $40 million in convention business as a result of this bill.

Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager of the Resource Center in Dallas, attended meetings in Austin. 

Some of the meetings were related to the passing of SB6.

“I wasn’t surprised that it passed. They have the numbers in the Senate to pass it regardless of the testimony,” McDonnell said. “I don’t think that any of the Republicans in that particular body were going to be swayed by any arguments.”

Joyce Jackson, a student at Richland College, says the bathroom bill is ridiculous. 

“If they were to create a ‘family room’ for anyone, no matter if they were gay or transgendered or just want privacy that might be okay,” Jackson said. “Why go through all that expense for nothing? People know who they are. To imagine you’re the opposite sex is ridiculous. I think people need to get back to reality.”

The bill now goest to the Housefor a final vote.