Courts could put Texas GOP's aggressive agenda to the test

State Sen. Larry Taylor R-Friendswood offers a floor amendment to SB 3 — the

Courts could put Texas GOP's aggressive agenda to the test

But the Lone Star State's law would likely only apply to public schools, according to a report from ABC News.

During intense debate over the bill Sunday and Monday in the House, Texas Democrats painted the amendment as a throwback to Jim Crow.

The bill, which cleared a key procedural hurdle in the state House on Sunday, would bar transgender students from bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, unless other children are not present.

Texas has become the second state to pass a so-called "transgender bathroom bill", but unlike North Carolina's version, Texas' is narrowly tailored to impact only public school students.

The bill's sponsor, Senator Charles Perry, a Republican from Lubbock, told colleagues that his proposal is "not meant to discriminate" against anyone and repeatedly told Democrats that it would put the child's needs first. "We'll just have to wait and see what happens", Straus said.

Supporters of the bill state that limiting the bill to just schools is a "middle ground" and will soften numerous boycotts that North Carolina faced following a similar bill. It would cover Texas public schools, not all bathrooms in publicly owned buildings.

The success of the bathroom bill resolves the ongoing dispute between House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), who preferred to avoid controversial social issues, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who has embraced them as he seeks to grow his political profile, in favor of Patrick.

Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston, the longest-serving African American and woman lawmaker in state history, held up a historic picture showing "white" and "colored" bathroom signs.

"If businesses saw that as vital to their interests, how much did the business lobby do to get fundamentally involved and communicate to elected officials that this is something that they absolutely had to have go their way?" he said.

Under the bill, school districts have to accommodate students who do not wish to use a common facility based on biological sex with a single-occupancy facility, or a multi-occupancy facility if its use occurs when no one else is present.

Republicans control both chambers of the Texas Legislature but the Senate has for years advanced voucher plans seeking to offer public money to students attending private and religious schools, only to have such proposals repeatedly and resoundingly defeated in the House.

Texas also won't face Federal consequences.

The Texas Freedom Network is a group of community leaders who support religious freedom and individual liberties. President Donald Trump then rescinded the order in February. It now heads to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature. The NCAA pulled sporting events and the state faced losing billions of dollars in related economic fallout, though some opposition has quieted since North Carolina lawmakers voted in March for a partial repeal.

If the Legislature succeeds "in forcing discrimination into Texas law, you can bet that Lambda Legal will be on the case before the next school bell rings", Jennifer C. Pizer, senior counsel and director of law and policy at the national gay rights group, said in a statement.

The language in the amendment is narrower than versions previously proposed in Texas.

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