Texas set for ‘bathroom bill’ that critics say targets LGBT rights

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By Jon Herskovitz

<span class="articleLocation”>Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is
expected on Thursday to introduce legislation to limit public
restroom access for transgender people, despite warnings from a
business group that the measure would hurt the Texas economy
because it was discriminatory.

Patrick, a Republican conservative Christian who guides the
legislative agenda in the state Senate, has said his proposed “Privacy Protection Act” is a top legislative priority for the
second most populous U.S. state.

The bill is one of several on tap for state legislatures
this year that socially conservative backers say offer common
sense protections against sexual predators. Critics say there is
no evidence of that and the laws are designed to infringe on the
civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Patrick’s office has not released details of the bill, but
he has been a supporter of only allowing access to public
restrooms based on gender at birth rather than the gender with
which a person identifies.

His office issued an advisory that he would announce the
bill’s filing on Thursday afternoon.

North Carolina in March 2016 became the first state to enact
a law that restricts bathroom access for transgender people. The
law prompted a federal civil rights lawsuit and has been blamed
for hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses and the
relocation of major sporting events from the state.

After a deal to repeal the measure in North Carolina
collapsed in December, Patrick applauded the state for keeping
its law on the books.

A major industry group, the Texas Association of Business,
said a study it helped conduct showed similar legislation in
Texas could result in economic losses ranging between $964
million to $8.5 billion for the state.

At the end of last year, four states had legislation
limiting transgender bathroom rights that were set to be on the
agenda when lawmakers convened in 2017. Republican leaders in
other states said more such bills would be filed.

This week, similar legislation was filed in Virginia and
Kentucky.



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