AUSTIN, Texas – Several states are considering legislation that would require schools and other government-run facilities to operate bathrooms based on biological sex, rather than gender identity.
Lawmakers in Texas, Virginia and Kentucky are considering bills similar to legislation adopted in North Carolina last year requiring government buildings to segregate bathrooms and other facilities like locker rooms and showers by biological sex, The Atlantic reports.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Senate Bill 6 last week to require local school districts and governments to adopt a bathroom policy that designates use based on biological sex, with exceptions for emergencies and custodians, according to The New York Times.
The legislation would give the state’s attorney general authority to investigate violations and file lawsuits to collect civil penalties, but would not apply to private businesses or government facilities rented by private businesses, according to the news site.
In Kentucky, Democratic state Rep. Rick Nelson last week filed similar legislation, House Bill 106, that would mandate public entities designate bathrooms to “only be used by persons based on their biological sex.” Another bill filed by Nelson, House Bill 105, would prohibit governments from imposing laws that violate individual rights spelled out in the U.S. and Kentucky constitutions guaranteeing “a person’s right of conscience” and religious freedom, the Courier-Journal reports.
Nelson told the news site he filed the legislation, which mirrors bills proposed by Republicans in the past, “to make sure those bills are out there in case the other side decides not to do them.”
“I support them and think they’re pretty good,” he said.
Virginia Del. Robert G. Marshall, meanwhile, is expected to introduce the “Physical Privacy Act” that would require schools and other government facilities to operate bathrooms based on birth sex, and to require school officials to notify parents if their children want to be “treated as the opposite sex,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“To let boys or guys without anything else just claim they’re transgendered is to really put women in harm’s way,” Marshall said.
The legislation in all three states faced immediate backlash from LGBTQ advocates and lawmakers from both parties, many of whom pointed to outrage that erupted in North Carolina following similar legislation adopted there last year.
North Carolina’s House Bill 2 prompted entertainers to cancel concerts, businesses to nix expansion plans, and both the NCAA and NBA to move events out of the state, the Times reports.
In Texas, Patrick faces opposition from business-minded conservatives as well as gay rights advocates, with some pointing to a study commissioned by the state’s business association that predicts the legislation would result in an economic loss of between $964 million and $8.5 billion, according to the news site.
Jason Embry, spokesman for state House speaker Joe Straus, said the legislation “is not an urgent concern for Speaker Straus.”
It’s a similar situation in Virginia, where Democratic Gov. Terry McAuiffe has vowed to veto and Marshall’s own party has voted against similar legislation in the past.
“That’s because (House Speaker) Bill Howell doesn’t want to deal with any of these issues. And that’s the problem,” Marshall told the Times-Dispatch. “If the Republicans aren’t willing to stand up, the voters may just take a walk in November.”
The legislation in Kentucky also is not an urgent priority for Republicans, who took over the House this year.
“Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and the legislature’s Republican majority leaders have emphasized since November’s elections that the emphasis in the 2017 legislative session would be on bills they contend will create jobs and improve Kentucky’s economy,” according to the Courier-Journal. “Bevin said at a press conference last month that the so-called bathroom bills are unnecessary because they address a problem that doesn’t exist in Kentucky.”