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'Bathroom bill' returns to Texas Legislature for special session

The proposal is one of 19 items on Gov. Abbott’s ambitious agenda for July

Lego model of a public bathroom
Lego model of a public bathroom
Online Design/Creative Commons

The so-called “bathroom bill”—a measure that would dictate which gender-designated government-building and school restrooms people must use when in Texas, or some version of that—is one of the 19 items on the agenda for a special session of the Legislature, called by Gov. Greg Abbott, The Texas Tribune reported Tuesday. The session will start July 18.

Senate Bill 6, a proposal that would require people to use restrooms that correspond with their “biological sex” in the state’s government buildings and public schools, as well as overruling any local regulations regarding such matters, was passed by the Senate during the regular legislative session this year, the Tribune reported in May,

Rather than taking up SB6, the House, which had passed a similar bill (House Bill 2899) earlier in the session, instead narrowed the focus to schools and voted to attach an amendment to a different Senate bill, SB 2078, which addresses school districts’ emergency response plans, the Tribune story explained.

That amendment would have required schools to provide single-stall restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities to students who don't want to use facilities designated by “biological sex,” according to the Tribune.

The two chambers were deadlocked on the issue when the regular session expired, but, according to a third Tribune article, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made it clear that he wanted to take up the matter again in a special session.

Much of the concern about the bill—inside and beyond the Legislature—has been the potential negative economic fallout for the state if it is passed. According to a January report, the City of Austin could face losses of $38 million over four years for revenue associated with the annual South by Southwest festivals and conferences alone if the bill passes.

More recently, the Verge (one of Curbed’s fellow Vox media sites) reported last week that CEOs from 14 tech companies—including Apple, Facebook, and Google, all of which have offices in Austin—wrote a letter opposing the bill to Abbott, calling the bill “discriminatory” and stating that its passage in Texas would be “bad for our employees and bad for business.”

Gov. Abbott calls special session on bathrooms, abortion, school finance [The Texas Tribune]

Apple, Facebook, and Google CEOs unite in opposition to Texas discrimination [The Verge]

Patrick, Straus deadlocked over "bathroom bill" [The Texas Tribune]

Texas House approves bathroom restrictions for transgender students [The Texas Tribune]

Big economic loss could be in store if ‘bathroom bill’ becomes law [Curbed Austin]