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

The Texas state House has passed an amendment prohibiting transgender students from using public school bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. A separate Legislature measure allowing religious exemptions for adoption and foster care is headed

The Texas state House has passed an amendment prohibiting transgender students from using public school bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. A separate Legislature measure allowing religious exemptions for adoption and foster care is headed

The legislation to allow religious exemptions for adoption and foster care has passed the Senate on Monday and now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

"I'm willing to stay as long and until the place we're staying in ... freezes over, until we get that bill" passed, Patrick said during the bill-signing ceremony, with Abbott seated behind him. Lambda Legal, a national gay rights group, signaled a legal challenge after Republican members overwhelmingly sent the bill to the state Senate.

"It's absolutely about child safety", said Paddie, from the East Texas town of Marshall. Democrats said the bill would discriminate against transgender students and make them targets for harassment by forcing them to use separate bathrooms. "We'll just have to see what happens".

'You remember? Bathrooms: white, colored.

Democratic state Representative Senfronia Thompson noted this issue, drawing comparisons between the bill and Jim Crow-era laws enforcing segregation between races.

That stood in contrast to a statement released by Republican Speaker of the House Joe Straus's office, which sought to strike a deal with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on the so-called bathroom bill that died in the House State Affairs committee.

A Patrick-backed measure, which Straus torpedoed in the House, would have gone much farther - requiring transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates in schools, universities and government buildings. Companies and entertainers boycotted the state, leading it to lose $3.67 billion in business, according to an Associated Press analysis.

The bathroom bill amendment comes after months of debate in Texas over a broader, stand-alone bathroom bill. President Donald Trump then rescinded the order in February.

It "doesn't give you the ability to proactively do something because of your religious belief, it just gives you the right to decline something because of your religious belief", he said.

Rachel Adams Gonzalez, whose 7-year-old daughter Libby is transgender and attends a Dallas elementary school, watched the House action from her home as she washed dishes after dinner Sunday evening. 'Some people don't want to admit that.

Gonzalez said Libby, who transitioned before she started elementary school, has always been able to use the girls' bathroom.

"This is meant to be respectful and fair and protective for safety for each and every student in our public schools", Bonnen said. It would prohibit transgender students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. Democrats and other child advocates, however, argue that will only increase school bullying and discrimination.

Texas - where the rate of maternal mortality has spiked in recent years for reasons not fully understood - is poised to take an initial step toward examining the problem.

Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, insisted, "there can be no compromise on discrimination". Schools must have a "single occupancy" facility, for students who do not want to do that. He said the goal is to protect students and treat all equally.

"This amendment was more about using trans kids as a negotiating tool at a contentious point in the session than about making kids safer", Rep. Celia Israel, a leader in opposing the bill said.

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