A controversial bill that would require people to use school restrooms and facilities that match the sex on their birth certificates has died in the Texas Legislature.
The Texas House adjourned on Tuesday, one day before the official end of the special session. The move ensured that the so-called bathroom bill, which both LGBTQ advocates and major Texas companies had strongly opposed, could not be revived at the 11th hour.
Senate Bill 3 had passed the state Senate earlier during the 30-day special session. The potential legislation had divided Texas Republican lawmakers, pitting ardent supporter Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in opposition to House Speaker Joe Straus.
Moderate voices said Texas would face the same backlash North Carolina did last year when it passed a similar but broader bill. North Carolina lawmakers repealed the bill in March after business groups, athletic organizations and entertainers condemned it.
“We hope that this time, this issue remains settled: Texans don’t want harmful, anti-transgender legislation,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign.
“First and foremost, these bills were defeated because of the many voices that came out in opposition, saying, ‘Don’t discriminate in the Lone Star State.’ Luckily for Texas, this chorus of voices was louder than the voices pushing for discrimination.”
Major corporations had publicly opposed the bill. These included business leaders from BP America, Halliburton, ExxonMobil Global Services, American Airlines, AT&T and Southwest Airlines. Tech giant IBM ran a full-page ad in local publications in July that said the company “opposes any measure that would harm the state’s LGBT+ community and make it difficult for businesses to attract and retain talented Texans.”
The bill would have prohibited people from using multiple-occupancy restroom, shower or changing facilities at Texas public and charter schools that didn’t match the sex as stated on a person’s birth certificate, driver’s license, personal identification certificate or license to carry a handgun. It also would’ve overturned local and individual school district’s policies on bathroom use.
Patrick, in an angry press conference Tuesday, said the bill’s failure to pass would hurt privacy.
The lieutenant governor said Texans don’t “want men — we’re not talking about transgendered — they don’t want sexual predators who would use that as a loophole to follow any of the women in this room into a bathroom. The people of Texas don’t want that.”
Patrick and other supporters had maintained the bathroom bill would protect the privacy of women and children.
The bill was stalled after the contentious legislative session came to an end in May. The governor asked Texas lawmakers to return to Austin for a special session that started July 18. Chief among the legislators’ priorities had been the bathroom bill, simply labeled “privacy.”
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, the author of the bathroom bill, told the Dallas Morning News she was “disappointed,” adding she was ready to “take a few breaths and go home.”
“It’s been a long year,” Kolkhorst said.