As law enforcement officials and sexual assault advocates on Tuesday gathered on the steps of the Texas Capitol to oppose the state GOP’s “bathroom bill,” lawmakers in the state senate sparred over parliamentary procedure.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley was joined by law enforcement officers from across the state in opposing Republican legislation that would prohibit transgender Texans from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
“It is merely an attempt to solve a problem that I do not believe exists and have not seen any evidence that it exists,” Manley said. “I am proud to stand here along with my peers from major cities around Texas to speak out about the concerns we have with this bill.”
Manley was joined at the press conference by Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, and Harris County Sheriff’s Office Assistant Chief Debra Schmidt.
SB 3, sponsored by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), would require that multiple-occupancy restrooms, showers, and changing facilities operated by public schools or local governments only be used by “persons of the same sex as stated on a person’s birth certificate.”
Supporters of “bathroom bill” legislation often claim that allowing transgender people to use restrooms corresponding with their gender identity puts women and children in danger. Opponents of the discriminatory measure, meanwhile, argue that it jeopardizes the safety of transgender people.
There is no verifiable evidence of a transgender person or someone posing as a transgender person harassing or attacking a cisgender person in a public restroom or other changing facility. To the contrary, transgender people are often victims of violence, with at least 15 transgender people killed so far in 2017.
Chief Acevedo criticized lawmakers for justifying the legislation as a public safety measure. “Here we are again, back at the capitol as a community of law enforcement professionals to say no to bad public policy,” Acevedo said.
The senate committee on state affairs held a public hearing Friday on SB 3. More than 200 people testified, with the vast majority speaking against the anti-trans legislation. The senate committee on Sunday voted to pass the bill, and the senate is debating the measure Tuesday and set to hold a vote on the bill.