AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require those using restrooms and locker rooms in government buildings and public schools to use the facility that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate.
Senate Bill 6, also known as the Texas Privacy Act, was filed by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R–Brenham, on Friday.
The measure is three pronged: It prohibits local municipalities from creating ordinances that control restroom usage at private businesses, requires those who use lavatories or locker rooms at government buildings and schools to use the men’s room if they were born a man and vice versa, and increases criminal penalties for crimes committed in restrooms, dressing rooms or locker rooms.
“A political subdivision or state agency with control over multiple-occupancy bathrooms or changing facilities in a building owned or leased by this state or the political subdivision, as applicable, shall develop a policy requiring each multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility located in the building to be designated for and used only by persons of the same biological sex,” S.B. 6 reads in part.
The bill will still allow schools to make a determination on a case-by-case basis, and the rules would not apply when a private entity rents a government-run building.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a press conference about the Privacy Act following its filing, advising that it will be a legislative priority for lawmakers. Protesters gathered inside the capitol building, holding signs and chanting “shame” in opposition to the proposal.
“The people of Texas elected us to stand up for common decency, common sense and public safety,” Patrick said in a statement. “This legislation codifies what has been common practice in Texas and everywhere else forever—that men and women should use separate, designated bathrooms.”
“S.B. 6 also ensures that businesses have the freedom to determine their own bathroom policies and that no public school can institute a bathroom policy that allows boys to go in girls restrooms, showers and locker rooms and girls to go in boys restrooms, showers and locker rooms,” he said.
Family groups applauded the move.
“The State of Texas has a duty to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of all Texans—especially in government buildings,” said Nicole Hudgens, policy analyst for Texas Values Action. “This law ensures common sense; men and boys should not be in girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms.”
“Since some local governments and school boards in Texas continue to push for allowing boys and men into girls bathrooms, we need a state law to have basic, consistent and transparent standards on this important issue across the state,” she opined.
But transgender advocacy groups expressed outrage over the matter, asserting that the measure is discriminatory and will result in harm to the Texas economy.
“After having watched the debacle in North Carolina, it is shocking that the lieutenant governor would be so intent on pursuing S.B. 6. It’s unnecessary, discriminatory and inconsistent with the constitutional value of equal protection for all,” Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director for the ACLU of Texas, remarked in a statement.
“And that’s to say nothing of the havoc it will wreak on the Texas economy should it pass,” she asserted. “Make no mistake—the invidious intent of SB6 is to deny transgender Texans the ability to participate in public life.”
Several other states also saw similar bills filed this week, including in Missouri, Kentucky, Minnesota and Virginia.