The conservative and moderate wings of the Texas GOP have spent months fighting over a proposal to ban people from using public bathrooms that don't correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificates. Final House approval came on Monday, sending the modified bill to the Senate, which should easily support it. Texas' legislative session ends May 29, but that's plenty of time - even if the bathroom bill is scaled-back enough to only affect the state's roughly 5.3 million public school students, and not the general public. Instead, lawmakers have settled on restrictions for trans kids.
Under a threat from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of being called into a special session, the Texas Legislature late Sunday advanced two anti-LGBT measures - one pertaining to adoption, the other transgender students - with days remaining before lawmakers were set to adjourn. "Bathrooms divided us then and it divides us now". "America has long recognized that separate but equal is not equal at all", said Rep. Senfronia Thompson, a Houston Democrat, of the restroom measure, according to the Morning News.
The author of the amendment, Republican representative Chris Paddie, said it is "absolutely about child safety" and "about accommodating all kids". "Either you discriminate, or you don't".
At present, most schools in the state accommodate transgender students according to their own rules.
With the House vote on Sunday, the measure is likely to become law.
The language in the amendment is narrower than versions previously proposed in Texas.
"The so-called bathroom amendment approved by the house last night is billed as a compromise, but there can be no compromise on discrimination".
Sunday's deal revived a stalled effort.
The bathroom bill is under criticism, with a group of women entering the men's restroom outside the House floor to protest the bill.
Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement the measure "is a risky, discriminatory bill" that represents anti-LGBT animus "coloring so much of the Texas Legislature this session".
Yet after heated debate, and despite early opposition from some Republicans like Dallas' Jason Villalba, the amendment ultimately passed 91-50, with only one Republican, Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, voting against it. "Texas is better than what the House did tonight", Israel said in a statement. It only applies to K-12 schools, rather than all public buildings, and it doesn't overturn non-discrimination ordinances passed by local governments. When Barack Obama was still president, the U.S. Department of Education tried to implement requirements that school districts nationwide allow transgender students to choose campus bathrooms or locker rooms they wished to use.
"The idea that it is less offensive, all those things are relative", said Cathryn Oakley, senior legislative counsel at the Human Rights Campaign. "I can tell you separate restrooms for transgender kids are also based on fear, not fact".