Texas twin to HB2: ‘bathroom bill’ introduced down south

Will Texas face similar backlash to North Carolina?

AUSTIN, Texas — As North Carolina faces ongoing protests and ever-growing financial repercussions of their anti-LGBTQ House Bill 2 (HB2), Texas may be next in line. The Lone Star State’s lawmakers introduced their own “bathroom bill” on Jan. 5, a potential law that is a near twin to North Carolina’s HB2.

Texas’ Senate Bill 6 (SB6) was first unveiled at a press conference by Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who used the party line of privacy and predator prevention. Similar to North Carolina legislators laying the blame on Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance, Patrick cited local protections as the trigger for SB6.

“If laws are passed by cities and counties and school districts that allow men to go into a bathroom because of the way they feel, we will not be able to stop sexual predators from taking advantage of that law, like sexual predators take advantage of the internet,” Lt. Gov. Patrick said. He also admitted that “Transgender people have obviously been going into the ladies’ room for a long time, and there hasn’t been an issue that I know of.”

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Despite Patrick’s concession that transgender people are not the predators he seeks to prevent, the lieutenant governor was at the forefront of the battle against public school bathroom access for transgender youth. After North Carolina passed HB2, the Obama administration mandated that public schools allow transgender youth to use the restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identities — and Texas struck back, leading the effort to sue the federal government for overreach.

Texas’ bathroom bill is called “the Privacy Protection Act,” a title undeniably reminiscent of HB2’s official name, “the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act.” The similarities don’t end there.

Both bills dictate that individuals use the public facilities consistent with their “biological sex” at birth. Both bills prevent local non-discrimination protections. Both bills are being condemned by LGBTQ activists as blatantly discriminatory. Texas’ bill, however, goes still further, establishing fines for noncomplying schools and agencies. SB6 also features a loophole allowing lenience to private entities that rent public facilities — perhaps in an attempt to stave off some of the backlash that North Carolina has suffered.

Though Texas is the first to imitate North Carolina’s HB2, several other states are considering similar laws. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that Alabama, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington are all pursuing “bathroom bills” this year.

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Though only a few days have passed since State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst filed SB6, backlash has already begun. The Texas legislature reached out to several of the state’s native authors to honor them in a “Celebration of Authors” event. One, Rick Riordan of the Percy Jackson series, emphatically declined.

“If they want to honor me, they could stop this nonsense,” tweeted Riordan.

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A single author aside, North Carolina stands as testimony that anti-LGBTQ legislation is not profitable.  In one notable protest against HB2, the NCAA relocated all events planned for North Carolina. The organization also has championships slated for Texas — but perhaps not for long.

In total, HB2 has cost North Carolina an estimated $630 million in lost revenue according to Forbes and thousands of jobs according to the campaign of new Gov. Roy Cooper. The Texas Association of Business examined North Carolina and other states with anti-LGBTQ legislation in a recent study, finding that such legislation would cost Texas up to $8.5 billion and 185,000 jobs. Lt. Gov. Patrick calls such figures “fear-mongering,” but North Carolina’s economy begs to differ.

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