Texas adoption agency 'religious refusal' closer to law

Legislators this session may not agree on how to fund schools, but they could be on their way toward creating new statewide rules that would require public schools to provide single-stall bathrooms and locker rooms to students who, for whatever reason, do not want to use facilities designated by "biological sex".

A Patrick-backed measure, which Straus torpedoed in the House, would have gone much farther - requiring transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates in schools, universities and government buildings.

Heading into the final stretch of the legislative session, House members strayed from the broader proposals that have languished in their chamber and instead attached the school-specific language onto SB 2078, which pertains to the regulation of school districts' emergency response plans in cases of natural disasters, active shooters and other "dangerous scenarios".

The Texas House gave final approval Monday morning to a bill banning transgender-friendly bathrooms in the state's public schools, turning down one final Democratic amendment that would have allowed schools to opt out of the law.

Texas' "bathroom bill" is back on the conservative Christian menu.

"I really hope everybody and anybody who is qualified and wants to serve children in Texas will be signing up and feeling free to do that", the lawmaker said. It's also smaller in scope than a law that passed with enormous backlash, and was later partially repealed, in North Carolina. Over the past months, Texas lawmakers have mostly questioned the financial repercussions of discriminating against trans people in public restrooms - not because of the civil rights implications, but because of the tourism and major event dollars the state may lose in supporting such legislation.

Several female Democrats in Texas chose to tour the men's bathroom just before the bill's vote. Republican Representative Chris Paddie from East Texas authored the House amendment.

The bill cleared the House on Monday in a 94-51 vote.

GOODWYN: Houston Representative Senfronia Thompson stood in the Texas House holding up a picture of a Jim Crow-era bathroom sign.

"It's about the safety of the same child that you just referenced, that is a transgender child that's assaulted. This amendment, if it becomes law, would leave transgender students even more vulnerable to being stigmatized and bullied". "Texans need to leverage their voices this week & demand Governor Greg Abbott (R) reject these risky bills, which would make the Texas legislature a national embarrassment".

"Transgender youth deserve the same dignity and respect as their peers, and this craven attempt to use children as a pawn for cheap political points is disturbing and unconscionable", said JoDee Winterhof, a senior vice president at the Human Rights Campaign. "Separate but equal is not equal at all", she said. House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, has been vocal in his opposition, warning it could hurt the Texas economy that has been among the country's strongest in recent years.

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