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Home | Tag Archives: transgender bathroom

Tag Archives: transgender bathroom

U.S. To Order Schools to Accommodate Transgender Student Bathroom Use

The Obama administration plans to issue a type of executive order on Friday directing every public school in the nation to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that align with their gender identity, according to a report in the New York Times.

The announcement comes amid a legal battle between the administration and North Carolina over the issue, the report noted, explaining that the declaration will outline what schools should do to ensure that none of their students are discriminated against.

It also comes days after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called for the resignation of the Fort Worth schools superintendent for implementing guidelines that allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room of their choice.

Patrick and other conservative leaders have pledged to pursue a law during next year’s legislative session that is similar to the one North Carolina passed, which prohibits people from using public restrooms that do not align with their biological sex.

The U.S. Justice Department and North Carolina sued each other this week over the legislation.

Embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday also announced he had filed an amicus brief with seven other states in a Virginia case where a school district restricted bathroom use for transgender students.

While several of Texas’ large, urban school districts have adopted nondiscrimination policies that cover transgender students, the Forth Worth district — the state’s sixth-largest — appears to be a pioneer in adopting guidelines that specifically address bathroom use by transgender students.

Superintendent Kent Scribner has said he will not resign and that he is proud of the guidelines, which he says provide teachers “with the ability to make all students more comfortable and confident in a learning environment.”

The debate heats up as Texas Republicans gather in Dallas for their state convention.

In a speech there Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott said to big cheers that he was working with the governor of North Carolina to “fight back” against the federal government over the issue.

Asked earlier this week whether he thinks the issue should be added to the state party platform, Patrick demurred, saying he was “happy to look at that” but that it isn’t a partisan issue. As evidence, he cited Houston voters’ resounding rejection last year of an ordinance that would have established protections from discrimination for gay and transgender residents and several other classes.

Opponents successfully attacked the measure with arguments about the bathroom use, particularly that it would put women in danger.

“I don’t want to turn this into a political, partisan issue so that’s why I’m not going to make a comment on what the party platform should or shouldn’t have,” Patrick told the Tribune in an interview after a news conference at the Fort Worth administration building. “The reality is, in Houston we defeated the ordinance there to allow men in ladies’ rooms and women’s locker rooms 2-to-1 in a Democratic city so that’s why this isn’t a partisan issue.”


The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues

Bathroom Battle Begins Taking Hold in Texas

The battle over who exactly can use which bathroom may be coming to Texas.

Activists, lawmakers and state leaders are eyeing Texas as the next front in what has become an explosive national debate: the right of transgender people — those who identify with a gender that doesn’t correspond with their sex at birth — to decide which bathroom they use. Undeterred by the ongoing fallout from a controversial law in North Carolina, Texas Republicans are putting a new emphasis on the issue with nine months until the next legislative session.

“Texas will be the next battleground,” said Jared Woodfill, a conservative activist who is pushing for the Legislature — and the state GOP — to make clear its opposition to letting men in women’s bathrooms. “In Texas, we need to draw a line in the sand. We need to stand with North Carolina.”

Activists like Woodfill have found an increasingly helpful ally in Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is calling the issue a priority for the nexttxbthrom legislative session. In an interview Wednesday, Patrick said it remains to be seen what kind of legislation the issue would require but it is “very possible” a statewide bathroom bill could be necessary.

Others are taking cues from the defeat last year of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which critics successfully claimed would have let men use women’s bathrooms. State Rep.Matt Shaheen, R-Plano, said his initial preference is legislation that prevents “cities from passing ordinances that mandate businesses to allow men to go into women’s bathrooms.”

Looming over the discussion is North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which has become a lightning rod for its provision prohibiting transgender people from using bathrooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificate. The law, which was signed last month by Gov. Pat McRory, has caused a fierce backlash, particularly among businesses now reconsidering their investments in the Tar Heel State.

It is unclear whether other Texas officials are as committed to the issue as Patrick is. Gov.Greg Abbott signaled solidarity last year when he joined Patrick in urging Houstonians to reject the nondiscrimination ordinance. “No men in women’s bathrooms,” Abbott tweeted at the time.

“Governor Abbott has always sought to protect family values in Texas, and he looks forward to continuing that work in the 85th legislative session,” Abbott spokesman John Wittman said in a statement Wednesday.

Perhaps no Texas Republican has been more outspoken on the issue than presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been attacking frontrunner Donald Trump on a daily basis for his comment last week that transgender people should use whichever bathroom they prefer. While Trump later somewhat walked back the statement, Cruz has been eviscerating the billionaire for falling prey to the same political correctness embodied by Democrats and their likely presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.

“I think the handwriting is on the bathroom wall: Men need to stay out of the ladies’ room,” Patrick said. “This isn’t about equal rights. This isn’t about being against anyone or anti-any person. This is about common sense, common decency and allowing women to have comfort when they’re in the bathroom.

Such arguments draw deep skepticism from LGBT advocates, who say there is virtually no evidence to suggest that Texas — or any other state —has seen transgender people attacking others in bathrooms. Instead, the advocates say, efforts like those ramping up in Texas serve to further stigmatize transgender people and perpetuate violence against them.
Activists and lawmakers are still figuring out how to tackle the issue in 2017, but some point to House 1748, an ill-fated bill from the last session that would have created a criminal penalty for anyone who enters the bathroom designated for the gender with which they were not born.

In Texas, the prospect of a battle similar to the one unfolding in North Carolina is alarming a business community already weary of the perception the Lone Star State is less than inclusive. Among those sensing the anxiety from businesses is Texas Competes, a coalition of more than 850 companies that aims to ensure an LGBT-friendly climate in the state.

“I hear it every day, concerns and questions: ‘Is it really going to happen here?'” said Jessica Shortall, managing director of Texas Competes. Texas, she added, “will suffer an enormous price if the state projects hostility toward LGBT people.”

Those on the other side of the issue argue businesses are succumbing to political correctness, making threats they often do not follow through on once the dust settles. Patrick called such concerns from the business community “nothing but bluster and bluff.”

“They said all those things in Houston and we still had the Final Four,” the lieutenant governor said, referring to the college basketball tournament that was held last month in the city. “The Super Bowl’s coming in January, and businesses continue to move to Houston.”

Patrick announced earlier this week he is boycotting any business that “allows men to use women’s bathrooms.” He and other Texas Republicans have zeroed in on Target, which became the first national retailer to wade into the issue when it announced last week it will allow transgender customers to “use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”

Shaheen said he is not worried about upsetting companies like Target, which in 2015 counted Texas among its three largest states by total sales. 

“If Target wants to close all their stores in the state of Texas, I will go over and help them pack and help them leave,” Shaheen said. “I will die on this issue politically. I am going to bat for my wife and my daughters.” 

Vehemence like Sheehan’s underscores the contrived nature of the debate, according to LGBT advocates. 

“These proposed gender-police laws are a solution in search of a problem, and actually it’s pandering and it’s dangerous,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas. “Texans know which restroom to use, and they don’t need any help from the Legislature.”

Author: Patrick Svitek – The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues

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