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