Apparently incapable of learning from the NC GOP's multi-billion dollar mistake, Texas Republicans are playing "hold my beer and watch this" with their last-minute efforts to specifically legalize discrimination against transgender kids in public schools.
The Texas House voted late Sunday on a bill that will keep transgender public school children from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.
The measure, a Republican deal on the “bathroom bill,” passed the GOP-dominated chamber by a vote of 91-50. It needs one more vote to officially pass the House. If the Senate agrees to the measure, and Gov. Greg Abbott doesn’t veto it, Texas will become the second state in the nation to pass such legislation.
Debate was emotional and divisive, with Democrats likening it to a Jim Crow-era attack on defenseless kids and Republicans insisting the measure did not single out or target anyone.
“America has long recognized that separate but equal is not equal at all,” said Rep. Senfronia Thompson, a Houston Democrat who has served in the House since 1972. “What’s wrong with treating kids with equality and not making them feel like they are second-class citizens?”
The measure would keep transgender kids from using multi-occupancy school bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, unless no one else is present. If other children are around, they’d have to use a different, single-use restroom elsewhere in the school.
Currently, school districts and charter schools in Texas draw up their own plans for accommodating transgender students. Many tackle the issue on a case-by-case basis. After the vote Sunday, the Texas Association of School Boards called the measure a "a common-sense solution."
"The language captures in law a solution many districts already use locally, seeking a balance between ensuring privacy and security for all students and respecting the dignity of all students," TASB Assistant Director of Government Relations Dax González said in a prepared statement.
The bathroom language was amended onto another public school bill, one that requires schools to draw up natural disaster and emergency preparedness plans. Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, authored the amendment.
“There is absolutely no intent, and I would argue nothing in this language discriminates against anybody,” said Paddie. “We want to make sure we provide definitive guidance to our school districts.”
The fight over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights this year has been particularly divisive in Texas. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, who heads the Senate, began pushing a bathroom bill last year, but House Speaker Joe Straus has called the effort unnecessary and damaging to business.
With the session winding to a close May 29, Patrick threatened to hold the state budget and another must-pass bill hostage if the bathroom bill wasn't approved in the House. The bathroom measure that passed Sunday was the product of that ultimatum, a proposal more limited than Patrick wanted, but palatable enough to receive the backing of a majority of House Republicans.
Imagine being a state lawmaker holding an entire state budget just to get legislation to force transgender schoolkids to use the wrong bathroom. That's the hill you choose to die on politically. That's how much you hate transgender kids, in order to force the government to legalize and codify that hatred, an abuse of power over which bathroom kids use in schools.
Never come at me again with "big government keeps interfering in our lives", Texas Republicans.