Yesterday, the House State Affairs Committee withdrew the Bathroom Surveillance Bill (HB 2801), a bill that would have harmed transgender youth in Texas.
HB 2801, authored by Representative Gilbert Peña, encouraged the harassment and bullying of transgender youth in our schools by penalizing transgender students just for using appropriate bathrooms.
The bill would force school districts to restrict access to gender-segregated spaces based on a student's biological sex. Additionally, non-transgender students could have received up to $2,000 for reporting a transgender students for using an appropriate bathroom for their gender.
“We ask you to oppose HB 2801 because it is an unnecessary and overly intrusive interference into local government,” HRC Senior Legislative Counsel Alison Gill explained in her testimony. “Moreover, HB 2801 conflicts with federal law and potentially puts school districts at risk for liability.”
Although this bill was withdrawn from this particular committee hearing, it could still be heard in the future, and the legislature continues to consider other anti-equality legislation. Other anti-transgender bills, such as HB 1747, HB 1748 and HB 2802, dubbed “bathroom surveillance bills,” are still pending in Texas. If passed, these bills would potentially criminalize transgender people and create liability for businesses.
Currently, 17 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 200 municipalities have passed and successfully implemented human rights laws that provide protections to the transgender community with absolutely no increase in public safety incidents. Instead, these “bathroom surveillance bills” hurt businesses and individuals by leaving them open to unnecessary litigation. Rather than creating greater safety or privacy, these cruel bills only harass and stigmatize a population that is already subject to heightened rates of violence and discrimination.
HRC urges the Texas legislature to vote against these unnecessary and harmful bills.
At least twenty other anit-LGBT bills have been introduced in Texas this year. Read about them here.
Update as of April 17, 2015: Rep. Gilbert Pena said the legislation would be “toned down” — but didn’t offer many specifics. He expects the proposal to be rescheduled for a hearing next week. Pena suggested he may lower the allowed money damages, but didn’t elaborate. He also declined to talk about his motivation behind the bill.