Facing assured backlash, the Republican-controlled Texas Senate voted to approve a contentious “bathroom bill” on Tuesday. Senate Bill 3, which was tabled during the legislature’s regular session earlier this year, was approved despite a widening divide within the state’s GOP.
The reintroduced bill remains just as discriminatory as its slightly modified predecessor. Senate Bill 3 would restrict bathroom use to the sex listed on birth certificates or state-issued IDs in government operated schools and buildings.
The Texas Tribune notes that the revised bill included Texas IDs as it might be “helpful for transgender adults” who can’t change their birth certificates, but it wouldn’t assist children unable to use school bathrooms that don’t match their gender identity.
Here’s what the text of the bill says:
“Each multiple-occupancy restroom, shower, and changing facility of a political subdivision, including a public school district, or an open-enrollment charter school must be designated for and used only by persons of the same sex as stated on a person ’s birth certificate.”
If approved by the House of Representatives, where it encountered opposition from Republican House Speaker Joe Straus last time it was approved by the Senate, SB 3 would also nullify municipal ordinances meant to give transgender people the choice to use bathrooms that reflect their gender identity. Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, have all passed such measures.
Police chiefs from those cities, plus El Paso and Houston, have argued against the bill. They gathered at the Capitol building on Tuesday, along with public school officials, to express their opposition to SB 3.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley summarized police opposition to the bill on Tuesday. “If a bill like this were to be passed that would pull police officers’ time away from combating violent crime into enforcing a bathroom bill, it makes communities less safe,” Manley told the crowd. “It is time not spent ensuring community safety.”
The Houston, TX, police Chief Art Acevedo said argued SB 3 might make Texas more dangerous. “Folks will feel emboldened, they will feel that they can discriminate, they can target and they will feel they can have vigilante justice out there because of this law,” Acevedo said.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott is a proponent of SB 3. He revived the bill during the state legislature’s “special session.” In early June, Abbott told reporters that the bill was intended to protect children. “At a minimum, we need a law that protects the privacy of our children in our public schools,” said Abbott.
As The Tribune reports, it is the third time this year that Texas Republicans (and one Democrat who voted in favor of the legislation) have attempted to impose bathroom restrictions for transgender people.