Can You Pass the OK in Texas Test?

Next week, some of the newly convened Texas Senate leadership will try to fast track a vote on State Bill 6, colloquially named the Texas Privacy Act. http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/billtext/pdf/SB00006I.pdf#navpanes=0

This bill will require people to use the bathroom or locker room (changing facility) according to the gender on their official birth certificates.  It specifically requires higher education campuses and public K-12 schools, as well as charter schools, to comply. 

According to the Williams Institute, SB6 will negatively impact over 125,000 transgender adults, 60 percent of whom are People of Color—44 percent Latino and 12 percent African-American. It will hurt 19,600 transgender youth who cannot fully participate in their education.  Further, research shows that limiting access to restrooms creates health problems for transgender people and exposes them to harassment and bullying. http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/if-passed-texas-senate-bill-6-would-negatively-impact-over-125000-transgender-adults-in-texas-and-thousands-of-transgender-youth/#sthash.6qaCfakr.dpuf

Sadly, my beloved home State of Texas appears to be devolving into a place where it may soon only be safe to be an over-21, white, native-born, person assigned-male-gender at birth (genitalia confirmed on birth certificate) and heterosexual. I will not be able to pass my imaginary (or could it be prophetic?) OK in Texas test. How will my neighbors publicly display their OK in Texas badges?  What will I be forced to display? 

Ditto for my two children who represent the fourth generation of our family in the State and the many students they serve.  They both work in Texas schools. I encouraged them to do so because I have always believed in our great live and let live state. I refuse to believe that the majority of Texans will sit idly by and let these anti-Texan laws pass and/or be enforced in their communities.  I am very proud of campus leaders who have identified as sanctuary schools for undocumented students.  https://www.texastribune.org/2016/12/01/abbott-vows-cut-funding-sanctuary-campus-schools/ Perhaps we need them to identify themselves as sanctuary for transgender identified students as well.

If you agree with blocking SB6, please join me by retweeting #free2b&pwithu&me and call a Texas legislator today. http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/Resources/contactText.aspx

We have about four to six weeks to fill up the in-boxes, voice mails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin accounts of Texas legislators.  SB6 must still be read on the Senate floor, assigned to a committee to set the calendar for it, hearings must be held and two more reads must occur before there is a vote.  

Analysts at the local level believe that SB6 will likely not be stopped in the Texas Senate, but it may be wrestled to the floor in the House.  Here are a few of SB6's strengths and vulnerabilities. 

Vulnerability

Under SB6, if a male goes in restroom and rapes a female, it will automatically be a first degree felony, but if the male drags the female out into the hall and commits the rape in the hall, it will be a second degree felony. 

It is hard for me to believe that female senators think this is ok, as if rape is less egregious if done outside a restroom.  If you would like to understand the negative impact of this proposed aspect of the legislation on your daughters and granddaughters, I invite you to read Beyond Compliance: Addressing Sexual Violence in Higher Education http://www.myacpa.org/publications/beyond-compliance-addressing-sexual-violence-higher-education

Strength

Under SB6, in Texas, organizations like the one for which I work, the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), will still be able to contract with a place like the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston and label restrooms gender neutral or all-gender.  

SB6 has inserted this type of protection for businesses committed to equity and inclusion for all of their customers and employees and, in doing so, hopes to avoid the backlash from businesses that occurred and continues in North Carolina.  It is now estimated that North Carolina has lost $200 million in revenue due to HB2  http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/09/17/tallying-mounting-economic-toll-north-carolinas-hb2 and Texas may lose as much as $8 billion.

Some of the biggest losses may be in Houston which repealed its non-discrimination (HERO) ordinance last year. ACPA was very active in the fight to reverse this action and continues to work with the ACLU in Houston on ways to leverage our Convention presence in Houston in 2018 to fight for reversal. https://www.google.com/amp/www.houstonchronicle.com/business/economy/amp/City-concerned-for-conference-business-in-6791478.php?client=safari

We believe ACPA’s presence in Houston offers a major opportunity to educate and rebut the misinformation and lies that have been used by conservative politicians. The existence of transgender identified people in our lives does not threaten the privacy of anyone else. Anti-trans laws are not really about restrooms, locker rooms, safety, or privacy but about expelling trans people from public life. Those most impacted by these laws have been and will always be trans people who are already subject to the most policing and violence — particularly trans women and femmes of color.  https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/transgender-people-arent-threat-you

Do you believe in fundamental fairness and justice for all human beings? If so, please take time to read SB6 and express your views. 

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