AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Senate approved a bill on Tuesday that would require those using restrooms and locker rooms in government buildings and public schools to use the facility that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate.
Following approximately five hours of debate, Senate Bill 6 passed 21-10 mostly along party lines, with Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, being the sole Democrat voting in favor of the measure.
“I think the people of Texas expect boundaries between gender,” stated sponsor Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham in a speech on the Senate floor. “It’s not easy when we talk about these issues. Cisgender. Transgender. How many genders are there? Are we created man and woman? Or do we internalize something different?”
“I think the God I believe in, the cross I wear today, said there was man and woman,” she declared.
Kolkhorst opined that the “blurring of gender” will be harmful to women and the cause of women’s rights.
But Democrats criticized the measure as potentially causing embarrassment to residents whose looks don’t match the restroom they are required to use.
“Don’t you see the damage that does to kids, to be humiliated and embarrassed because they can’t use the bathroom of the gender they identify with?” asked Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston.
“How do you have a transgender woman that’s just as feminine as any woman on this Senate floor … go to a men’s restroom?” also inquired Sen. John Whitmire, also of Houston.
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.
It passed a Senate Committee last week 8-1 following an almost 21-hour hearing, and now moves to the House for consideration.