Texas moved one step closer Sunday night to enacting its own version of North Carolina’s controversial ‘bathroom’ bill.
The state’s House of Representatives added the measure as an amendment to a bill regarding emergency operations in schools. The amendment requires students to use the bathroom of their biological gender in schools.
This is unlike a previous bill in the Texas legislature, which was similar to the North Carolina 'bathroom' bill and required people to use the restroom matching their biological gender at all publicly owned facilities. That bill passed the state Senate, but has been held up in the House.
Instead, House lawmakers tacked on the bathroom provisions to SB 2078, a bill meant to outline certain school safety requirements and standards. The bathroom amendment was added as a way to improve the “privacy, dignity and safety” of students, according to the author Republican State Rep. Chris Paddie.
The amendment requires schools to provide a single occupancy bathroom for students who don’t want to use the bathroom of their biological sex. It does allow those students to use a multi-occupancy bathroom if no one else is using it.
In debate on the House floor, opponents argued the bill discriminates and questioned whether the single bathrooms will be equal to multi-occupancy bathrooms and whether the amendment is appropriate for the bill.
“The bill as filed is about disasters, and terror attacks and emergencies. How does your amendment fit into this bill?” asked Representative Joseph Moody, a Democrat from El Paso.
“I think it’s absolutely about child safety,” Paddie said.
Moody went on to tell Paddie that transgender students have never attacked anyone in a bathroom. Moody said statistics on bullying, sex crimes, harassment, and violence in bathrooms show transgender students have only been victims.
Paddie argued the bill gives equal protection to transgender students.
“It’s about the safety of the same child that you just referenced, that is a transgender child that’s assaulted. It’s about that student as well. This amendment treats all students the same,” Paddie said.
The bill now goes to the Senate. If it passes, Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign it.