North Texas

Activists, Law Enforcement Officers and Survivors Speak Out Against ‘Bathroom Bill'

Law enforcement officers, sexual assault experts and other officials from around the state of Texas spent Tuesday morning speaking out against the 'Bathroom Bill' currently up for debate in the Texas legislature's Special Session.

Dozens of experts convened on the south steps of the Texas Capitol building to fight a bill that Austin Mayor Steve Adler called, "discriminatory, plain and simple."

The legislation being considered, which would mandate individuals use the restroom of the gender designated on their birth certificate, has been a hot topic for legislators, activists and economists from around the state.

North Carolina passed a similar bill in 2016 and lost the 2017 NBA All-Star game, NCAA tournament games and other business opportunities as a result. The state subsequently repealed their bill - a chain of events many feel would take place in Texas, if a similar bill is passed.

Some have speculated that the NFL won't consider the state for future drafts and Super Bowls, while companies like IBM, which is currently waging an ad-campaign against the bill, will avoid expansion - strangling job growth in the state.

Among the law enforcement officers to speak out were police chiefs, deputies and majors from Austin, Chorpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio. All agreed the bill would have harmful effect on departments already spread too thin - calling it an added burden on law enforcement and legislative theater that's creating a problem out of a non issue.

The law enforcement officers all said they have never responded to an issue of people using a bathroom of another gender, under the pretense of being transgender, in a predatory fashion.

The Executive Director of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, Annette Burrhus-Clay, said legislators should consider bills "based on evidence, not on rhetoric," if they truly hope to reduce sexual assault and gender violence in the state.

Lavinia Master, a sexual assault survivor and activist from Lewisville, said the focus should be put on testing rape kits that have sat untested, not on restricting bathroom access for transgender individuals.

Representative Joe Moody, the Chairman of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and former prosecutor, said the bill would only increase the harassment and sexual assault transgender students already face at a disproportionate rate.  

"A solution in search of a problem," said San Antonio's Northside ISD Superintendent Brian Woods, who said the legislative focus should be on school funding, not bathroom choice. 

Along with the bathroom bill, several of the officials also spoke out against what they believe to be other discriminatory legislative efforts - House Bill 46, House Bill 50, Senate Bill 3 and Senate Bill 91 were mentioned by name.

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