Bathroom Bill graphic

The demise of “Texas Senate Bill 3 a” has prompted debate over the potential merits of a bill requiring individuals to use bathroom facilities consistent with their biological gender.

The proposed bill would have required public schools, open-enrollment charter schools, and local governments to designate all multiuser restrooms, locker rooms, shower facilities, and changing rooms for either males only or females only, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website. This bill would not apply to private institutions, such as Texas Christian University and Baylor University, but would require public universities such as Texas Tech to comply.

The bill passed in the Texas state senate by a 21-10 vote but ultimately did not survive Texas’ special legislative session. On Wednesday, Aug. 16, lawmakers in Austin killed the bill for the second time. North Carolina remains the only state to pass legislation restricting access of multiuser restrooms, locker rooms and other gender-segregated facilities to transgender individuals.

The proposed bill also would have defined biological sex as “the physical condition of being male or female as assigned at birth and indicated on a person’s birth certificate,” according to NCSL.

“The fact that this bill didn’t pass shows how the youth is driving the state forward despite having a conservative government,” Haley Hickey, a senior social work major from Lubbock, said. “I think if the public had more knowledge on the community that this bill is affecting, people would be more understanding of the certain needs of these individuals.”

In the 2017 legislative session, 16 states, including Texas, have evaluated legislation that would restrict access to multiuser restroom facilities on the basis of a person’s gender identity being inconsistent with their biological sex, according to NCSL. 

“These people that have gone through (years of) emotional struggle and likely thousands of dollars to transition to live the life that they feel is truly them,” Matthew Koehl, a junior human development and family studies major from Lytle, said. “It’s ridiculous to pass some sort of legislation that’s going to then discourage them even further from being themselves.”

Texas is also one of six states to consider legislation that would forestall county-level and municipal anti-discrimination laws, according to NCSL. The legislation is still pending in Texas.

“The true matter of it is trans women and trans men have higher murder rates,” Parker Reyes, a junior public relations major from Austin and student assistant with Tech’s Office of LGBTQIA, said. “Part of that is from laws like this that feed into this culture that perpetuates this cycle of marginalization and stigmas.”

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