Dear Commons Community,
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced yesterday the filing of a bill that would require people in government buildings and in public schools to use the bathroom that corresponds with their “biological sex.” The bill is similar to one that caused a political uproar in North Carolina and led to widespread boycotts there by companies, entertainers, sports events and gay rights groups, which said the bill discriminated against transgender people who use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Mr. Patrick played down the potential economic fallout for Texas and denied that the bill, which has been in the works for months, was discriminatory. As reported by the New York Times:
“We know it’s going to be a tough fight,” Mr. Patrick told reporters at the Texas Capitol. “The forces of fear and misinformation will pull out all the stops, both in Texas and nationally. But we know we’re on the right side of the issue, and we’re on the right side of history.”
Democratic lawmakers, civil rights groups, gay and transgender rights activists, and the state’s most influential business lobby, the Texas Association of Business, swiftly condemned the legislation and predicted an economic blow to Texas if it passed.
“If it’s like H.B. 2 in North Carolina, it’s discriminatory, and it’s bad for business,” said Chris Wallace, the president of the business association, adding that the bill was likely to discourage corporate relocations to Texas and stop potential workers, particularly millennials, from coming. “We do not want our state to have an unwelcoming brand to future workers.”
Mr. Wallace said his organization would “fully engage” in an effort to block the measure in the Texas Legislature, which starts its 140-day session on Tuesday. A study commissioned by the business group found that North Carolina-style bills on bathroom access and other, similar measures could result in an economic loss in Texas ranging from $964 million to $8.5 billion, including the loss of up to 185,000 jobs.”
The movement of this bill through the Texas legislature will be followed carefully and will raise the same alarms as a similar bill did in North Carolina.