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Texas Senate approves 'bathroom bill' against transgender students

By Andrew V. Pestano

July 26 (UPI) -- The Texas Senate has advanced a bill to force transgender students in public schools to use restrooms that match their birth sex -- and which partly bans transgender athletes from school sports.

The Senate voted 21-10 to advance the legislation -- Senate Bill 3 -- after eight hours of debate on Tuesday.

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The bill would regulate bathroom use in schools and buildings managed by local governments by barring them from establishing policies that allow for multiple-occupancy restrooms that don't match students' birth sex.

The bill also extends to sports, prohibiting local governments from creating policies for students' "participation in athletic activities" -- effectively barring transgender athletes from joining school teams.

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The Texas House will now consider the bill, but Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has already voiced opposition -- saying the bill is unnecessary, harmful to transgender children and hazardous to the economy.

Republican Sen. Lois Kolkhorst said she authored the bill to create statewide policy regulating how schools and local governments manage access to bathrooms and other private facilities.

"This bill would hit what I call the reset button and provide the privacy and safety that Texans expect," she said during a debate.

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On the measure prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in school sports, Kolkhorst said she did not "believe that it's right for boys to compete against girls."

In a statement late Tuesday, Texas Democrats said the so-called "bathroom bill" is "cruel," "dangerous" and "hateful."

"Republicans have stained the friendly and welcoming reputation of Texas with discrimination. The Texas brand is broken," Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. "Senate Bill 3 ... fuels the flames of anti-transgender hate and subjects children to unnecessary harassment and bullying.

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"Texas Republicans are fighting all the wrong battles, and have neglected the real concerns of Texas families. Our kids, our communities, our economy, and our healthcare are in desperate need of real solutions."

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