On Wednesday, a large number of House Republicans released a letter calling on House Speaker Joe Straus to bring women’s privacy legislation to a vote.
In what might be the defining fight of the 85th Legislative session, a battle has been brewing over SB 6 by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham). Also known as the Texas Privacy Act, SB 6 would prevent biological men from entering women’s public bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms at government buildings. The legislation would also pre-empt local ordinances seeking to dictate policies at private businesses.
A major priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, SB 6 passed the Texas Senate in mid-March but has faced strong opposition in the Texas House where Straus is openly opposed to the measure. Currently, conservatives fear that the legislation will die without a public vote in the State Affairs Committee, the domain of his hatchet-man, State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana).
While House conservatives have attempted to bring the issue to the floor several times, Straus has so far refused to allow them to do so. Just yesterday, Straus refused to even recognize multiple members as they attempted to offer amendments to a bill protecting privacy in government buildings and defining gender as biological sex.
Today, 27 Republicans have signed on to a letter by State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler) calling on Straus to bring the measure to a vote. An excerpt from the letter is as follows:
“We strongly support the goal of protecting women and girls in the Texas Privacy Act, Senate Bill 6, and we call on the Texas House to bring SB 6, or a similar bill to the floor of the House to allow an open debate and a vote. We support the Texas Privacy Act because it will:
- address the danger of exposing women and young girls in showers, restrooms, and other intimate settings in places such as public schools and universities to men who claim a self-defined definition of gender;
- ensure that voyeurs and sexual predators are not given a new opportunity to places where they were previously not afforded unrestricted entry;
- give private businesses, churches and charities the freedom to determine their own policy for gender privacy in showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms, rather than be forced to comply with local county or city ordinances, or be exposed to lawsuits.
The Texas Privacy Act is about preserving a right that is self-evident: that of women and girls to be safe, secure and private in moments in which they are most vulnerable.”
The full letter may be viewed in full here. House members signing it include: