The amendment will force students to use bathrooms and facilities that correspond to their ‘biological sex’
Legislators in Texas yesterday advanced a bill that will require transgender students and schoolchildren to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their “biological sex”.
Despite members of the Texas House of Representatives such as Joe Strauss repeatedly saying they would not support it, the “bathroom bill” was introduced as an amendment to an otherwise unrelated bill on emergency procedures in schools. The introduction of the bill comes after Texas’ lieutenant governor Dan Patrick promised to pursue it until it passed.
The bill’s going forward serves as another instance this year where the civil rights and safety of transgender youths in the US are being threatened by policy. In February, The Departments of Justice and Education in the US rescinded federal instructions put in place during the Obama administration which legislated that schools were to allow transgender students to use to bathrooms and facilities corresponding with their gender identity.
The bill is set to do nothing but further marginalise trans youth in the US school system who are already faced with a disproportionate risk of suicide, bullying and abuse. The bill states that single-occupancy bathrooms will be provided in schools for any ‘student who does not wish to use the facilities designated for use or commonly used by persons of the student's biological sex.’
Opposition has come from members of the Texas House of Representatives such as Senfronia Thompson who described the bill as being akin to racial segregation. She said: ‘I happened to be a part of this society during a period of time in this state and in this country when we had ‘separate but equal’. . . Bathrooms divided us then and it divides us now and America has long recognized that separate but equal is not equal at all.’
The Texas bill bears similarities to a bill passed in North Carolina in 2016 that was met with enormous international criticism and led to various large scale boycotts of public events in the state. Texas is just one of several states that are expected to implement laws that restrict bathroom and facility access for transgender people this year with bills being pushed in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
On the same day, Texas legislators have also passed a bill which will permit publicly funded adoption agencies to deny services to would-be parents based on religious objections.