‘Bathroom bills’ targeting public buildings, schools get hearing today

KXAN (AUSTIN) — Dozens of people are signed up to speak at a public hearing Friday at the Senate Committee on State Affairs to discuss two newly filed bills, Senate Bill 3 and Senate Bill 91. The bills were filed by Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham),the same senator who filed the so-called bathroom bill during the regular session, but there are some changes in the language this time around.

If passed, SB3 and SB91 would take effect in government buildings cities and counties and public and charter schools by requiring people to use multiple occupancy bathrooms, showers and changing facilities according to the sex on their birth certificates. The bills state that cities, counties and school districts can’t adopt their own policies to protect a class of people from discrimination when it comes to restrooms or participation in athletic activities, except in accordance with federal law.

Kolkhorst’s previous bill that came to the floor in the regular session, Senate Bill 6, did not mention any type of athletic activities.

Gov. Greg Abbott and 21 senators support the bills saying it’s about protecting privacy and public safety. “At a minimum, we need a law that protects the privacy of our children in public schools,” Abbott said.

But The National Episcopal Church has called on lawmakers to defeat the motion calling it discriminatory. And the Texas Association of Business said it would spend seven-figures on an ad campaign to fight the bill.

“It’s creating a problem where there doesn’t need to be one, it also shows the complete misunderstanding of who transgender people are and what they are about,” said Cathryn Oakley with the Human Right Campaign.

KXAN’s Wes Rapaport is at the hearing and will have an update on KXAN News at 5 and 6 p.m. 

As lawmakers were inside the hearing, various groups held a press conference in the open-air rotunda to denounce the new bills. The Human Rights Campaign, Equality Texas, the ACLU of Texas, the Texas Freedom Network and the Transgender Education Network of Texas all say the “bathroom bills” would prevent cities and schools from creating new protections for LGBTQ Texans.

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