Texas Senate initially passes ‘bathroom bill’ in 21-10 vote

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, lays out Senate Bill 3, Texas' "bathroom bill," on July 25, 2017. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, lays out Senate Bill 3, Texas' "bathroom bill," on July 25, 2017. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — After hours of discussion, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 3, also known as the “bathroom bill,” in an initial 21-10 vote, Tuesday.

The legislation would require Texans to use public facilities, such as restrooms, locker rooms and showers, based on their birth sex, regardless of gender identity.

The bill also includes components that address Title IX. “I don’t believe it’s right for boys to compete against girls in UIL events,” the bill’s author, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, said as she laid out the bill.

With a Republican majority in the Senate, despite opposition from many Democrats, the bill was able to move forward. The final vote could come this week.

Supporters argue SB 3 promotes privacy for constituents. “This bill will hit what I call the reset button, and provide privacy and safety that Texans expect,” Kolkhorst added.

“We are proposing a measure here that will allow schools to cause bullying by peers, by other students when I send a transgender student into the wrong bathroom,” Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, said as he questioned Kolkhorst about the bill.

“Senate Bill 3 offers a statewide solution, and hitting the reset button, what it does is move the authority on setting this policy for our political subdivisions to the state, so that we don’t see this playing out school district by school district, city by city, county by county,” Kolkhorst added.

“I wish we had spent less time talking about restrooms, and more time talking about classrooms,” said Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D- Laredo, in closing remarks.

Many transgender people statewide and nationwide criticized Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick regarding their support for the bill, and their push to pass it during the special session.

“Trans boys are boys, and trans girls are girls,” said Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, “we are not making anyone safer with this legislation.”

On the Capitol steps, law enforcement officials from across the state, gathered to share their concerns about how to police the legislation. “Members of the legislature, listen to your law enforcement leaders,” said San Antonio Police Department Chief William McManus

“It may be bad for primary elections but it is bad on public safety,” added Chief Art Acevedo of the Houston Police Department

Chief Brian Manley, with the Austin Police Department said, “This bill and the way that it is written and would be enacted would do nothing more than to marginalize part of our society that is already marginalized.”

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