Texas lawmaker introduces bill restricting transgender bathroom access

(Reuters/Jonathan Drake/File Photo)A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access is seen in the bathroom stalls at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina May 3, 2016.

A Texas lawmaker has introduced a bill that would restrict people's access to bathrooms according to their birth gender.

Last Thursday, Republican Sen. Lois Kolkhorst introduced Senate Bill 6 (SB6), which will prevent local governments from passing ordinances that will force businesses to allow people to use bathrooms and changing areas according to their gender identity.

The bill would also prohibit transgender people from accessing bathrooms that are not consistent with their biological sex in public buildings like schools and government offices, The Christian Post reported.

Citizens will be allowed to file a complaint to the attorney general's office if a government building continues to allow transgender people to enter bathrooms not consistent with their birth gender. Government agencies and departments that are found to be in violation could be fined $1,000 to $1,500 for the first offense.

Kolkhorst maintained that the bill was written "not to start a controversy but to end one."

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who promised to prioritize the passage of the bill, said that it was designed to "protect businesses from government interference."

"Texans should feel safe and secure when they enter any intimate facility, so I applaud the work of Lieutenant Governor Patrick and Senator Kolkhorst for fighting to protect women and children from those who might use access to such facilities for nefarious purposes." said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The proposal has been met with opposition at the new conference unveiling the bill. The organizers had to close the door of a packed room when about a dozen protesters started a chorus of loud boos.

The largest business lobbying group in the state has warned that approving the bill would result in the loss of up to $8.5 billion and more than 100,000 jobs.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas and other rights groups have come out to express their objection to the measure.

"It's unnecessary, discriminatory and inconsistent with the constitutional value of equal protection for all," the ACLU's legal and policy director, Rebecca L. Robertson said in a statement, according to Fox News.

"Make no mistake — the invidious intent of SB6 is to deny transgender Texans the ability to participate in public life," she added.

In North Carolina, corporations, musicians, and sporting institutions have avoided the state after an identical law went into effect last year. Lawmakers in Kentucky and Virgina have introduced similar bills despite the fallout.

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