3 reasons Texas must protect the privacy of women and children in bathrooms
In his call for a special session, Gov. Greg Abbott requested that legislation be formulated to protect the privacy of the citizens of Texas. Most Texans agree that our children and teenagers should not be forced to share locker rooms and public bathrooms with others of the opposite sex, and that’s why I filed the Texas Privacy Act (House Bill 46). Let me explain how HB 46 simply does the following three things.
1. The Texas Privacy Act protects the dignity and privacy of school-age children. Unfortunately, we find ourselves at this juncture because some of our Texas school districts have recently put policies in place — without input from parents — that would mandate allowing young boys and girls to use the same locker rooms. The Privacy Act ensures that this will never happen at any of our school districts again by keeping in place the same practices which served our state well up until now. If a school district wants to make individual accommodations for the needs of one student (such as using the nurses’ restroom) nothing in this bill prevents that.
What this bill does not allow, however, is for a school district to allow boys and girls to use the same facilities. Settled case law has determined that each person has an expectation of privacy from those of the opposite sex, and courts have ruled in these cases that sex is defined as biological sex.
2. The Texas Privacy Act seeks to prevent sexual predators from posing as members of the transgender community in order to utilize the public restrooms, locker rooms or changing facilities of their choice.The definition of “gender identity” is so broad, nothing would prevent a sexual predator from pretending to be transgender in order to take advantage of the right, and potentially even use this right as their defense when charged. This ambiguity exists within ordinances passed by some Texas cities and other political subdivisions. The Texas Privacy Act eliminates this unintended consequence.
3. The Privacy Act ensures a consistent, uniform statewide policy, preventing a patchwork of different regulations among cities and school districts across Texas. Policies relating to these facilities should be the same in Dallas as they are in Dalhart, in Austin as they are in Amarillo. HB 46 ensures that any changes to these practices are made by amending state or federal law, which is the proper venue.
It is important to note that the Privacy Act was carefully crafted to protect the rights of Texas businesses. Despite implications to the contrary, HB 46 imposes no regulations on any private businesses, which are free to implement policies as they see fit. Additionally, HB 46 does not prohibit organizations that lease public facilities (such as stadiums or convention centers) from establishing their own policies during the term of the lease.
The Texas Privacy Act is a sensible, common-sense approach which seeks to protect the security, dignity and privacy of our young children.
Ron Simmons is Republican representing Carrollton in the Texas House. Twitter: @RonSimmonsTexas