Texas ‘bath­room bill’ dif­fers from N.C.’s, but looks sim­i­lar

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By W. Gardner Selby wgselby@states­man.com

Op­po­nents of a Texas pro­posal in­tended to limit res­i­dents to pub­lic bath­rooms match­ing the sex on their birth cer­tifi­cate often stress North Carolina’s ex­pe­ri­ence as a warn­ing.

Af­ter Repub­li­cans there passed a bath­room law curb­ing pro­tec­tions for les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der res­i­dents, eco­nomic losses, mostly tied to boy­cotts, quickly added up to as much as $201 mil­lion, Poli­ti­Fact North Carolina con­firmed in May. Those fact-check­ers later found Mostly False a claim that the law hadn’t hurt the econ­omy.

Texas Repub l icans have pooh-poohed eco­nomic ar­gu­ments against the Texas pro­posal, Se­nate Bill 6.

And state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Bren­ham, the pro­posal’s au­thor, main­tained at a Feb. 6 press con­fer­ence there’s a dif­fer- ence be­tween what North Carolina adopted and what she seeks. Kolkhorst said: “This bill is very dif­fer­ent from the North Carolina bill in that theirs cov­ers a whole list of things that the Texas Pri­vacy Act does not.”

Ear­lier, the Texas As­so­ci­a­tion of Busi­ness called SB 6 sim­i­lar to North Carolina’s House Bill 2. Both “ban trans­gen­der peo­ple from us­ing pub­lic school, uni­ver­sity and gov­ern­ment build­ing re­strooms,” TAB said, “and pro­hibit mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from pass­ing trans­gen­der-in­clu­sive pub­lic ac­com­mo­da­tions poli­cies.”

So, which is it?

(A note: We com­pleted this fact check be­fore tweaks to SB 6 were un­veiled this week.)

Kolkhorst, asked how she reached her as­sess­ment, cor­rectly noted in an email that the Texas pro­posal has no lan­guage af­fect­ing worker wages or la­bor con­di­tions as the North Carolina law does.

Also, she said, North Carolina’s law adds a bar on dis­crim­i­na­tion based on a person’s “bi­o­log­i­cal” sex; that sec­tion con­fus­ingly goes on to say that it doesn’t give any­one the right to sue about vi­o­la­tions un­der state law. SB 6, we con­firmed, lacks a sim­i­lar pro­vi­sion.

But the bath­room pro­vi­sions of the leg­is­la­tion and the law ap­pear sim­i­lar, both pre­vent­ing pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing schools, from let­ting trans­gen­der peo­ple en­ter bath­rooms of choice.

North Carolina’s law re­quires lo­cal boards of ed­u­ca­tion to “re­quire ev­ery mul­ti­ple-oc­cu­pancy bath­room or chang­ing fa­cil­ity that is des­ig­nated for stu­dent use to be des­ig­nated for and used only by stu­dents based on their bi­o­log­i­cal sex.” Sim­i­larly, the Texas leg­is­la­tion di­rects each school dis­trict to adopt a pol­icy “re­quir­ing each mul­ti­ple-oc­cu­pancy bath­room or chang­ing fa­cil­ity ac­ces­si­ble to stu­dents that is lo­cated in a school or school fa­cil­ity to be des­ig­nated for and used only by per­sons based on the person’s bi­o­log­i­cal sex.”

Also, the law and the Texas pro­posal each says schools aren’t re­stricted from pro­vid­ing, on re­quest “due to spe­cial cir­cum­stances,” an ac­com­mo­da­tion.

At our in­quiry, Equal­ity Texas, an LGBT ad­vo­cacy group, pro­vided a pro­vi­sion-by-pro­vi­sion com­par­i­son of the two mea­sures.

Equal­ity Texas spokes­woman DeAnne Cuel­lar noted that both ap­ply to pub­lic agen­cies and schools. “The only dif­fer­ence in ap­pli­ca­tion is that un­der SB 6,” Cuel­lar ac­cu­rately wrote, “a pri­vate en­tity leas­ing a pub­licly owned fa­cil­ity (like a sta­dium) can set its own bath­room and chang­ing room poli­cies while it is oc­cu­py­ing the build­ing.”

Also, Cuel­lar wrote, the North Carolina law broadly nul­li­fies “LGBT-in­clu­sive mu­nic­i­pal nondis­crim­i­na­tion or­di­nances,” while SB 6 lim­its its re­stric­tion to lo­cal or­di­nances that al­low trans­gen­der res­i­dents to en­ter bath­rooms of choice.

We con­firmed the law con­tains an all-in­clu­sive re­stric­tion.

Cuel­lar fur­ther pointed out that SB 6 as filed — un­like North Carolina’s law, which lacks en­force­ment pro­vi­sions — sets fines that could be levied for vi­o­la­tions of the bath­rooms man­date.

Our rul­ing

Kolkhorst said her pro­posed Texas Pri­vacy Act “is very dif­fer­ent from” North Carolina’s law “in that theirs cov­ers a whole list of things that the Texas Pri­vacy Act does not.”

Both the North Carolina law and the Texas bill man­date poli­cies pre­vent­ing state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties in­clud­ing pub­lic schools from let­ting trans­gen­der res­i­dents en­ter bath­rooms of choice. But the Texas pro­posal lacks North Carolina’s sec­tion on wages and doesn’t have North Carolina’s bar on any­one go­ing to state court to al­lege dis­crim­i­na­tion due to the law. Also un­like HB 2, SB 6 doesn’t un­plug all or­di­nances per­tain­ing to dis­crim­i­na­tory prac­tices in pub­lic ac­com­mo­da­tion.

On balance, we rate this claim Half True.

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