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'Discrimination Sunday': Texas Lawmakers Advance Anti-LGBT Bills

Texas protest
Protesters at the Texas state capitol earlier this year

A bill allowing discrimination by adoption agencies is headed to the governor, and an anti-trans "bathroom bill" likely will soon be as well.

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On what LGBT activists are calling "Discrimination Sunday," Texas lawmakers advanced bills allowing anti-LGBT discrimination by adoption agencies and restricting restroom use by transgender students in public schools.

The state Senate approved House Bill 3959,allowing faith-based adoption agencies, including those that receive state funding, to base decisions about child placement on their religious beliefs, even if that means discriminating against same-sex couples, members of other faiths, or anyone else who runs afoul of the agency's dogma, Newsweek reports. The House had approved it earlier this month, so it now goes to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature.

The House gave preliminary approval to the anti-trans measure Sunday, then followed it with final approval today, The Dallas Morning News reports. It is an amendment to an unrelated measure already OK'd by the Senate, but the Senate must now sign off on the amendment before it goes to Abbott, a Republican who has said passing a so-called bathroom bill is a priority for this legislative session. The bill would prevent trans students from using multi-occupancy restrooms that correspond with their gender identity, unless no other student is present.

LGBT activists denounced both pieces of legislation. "It is appalling to see Texas lawmakers use their anti-LGBTQ agenda to block children from loving families and put the safety of transgender students in jeopardy at their own schools," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, in an emailed statement. "Governor Abbott should protect Texas's reputation and economy by vetoing dangerous legislation like HB 3859 instead of letting Texas lawmakers sneak discriminatory legislation through while the nation's attention is diverted."

"Fresh off its passage of the most anti-immigrant legislation in the nation, the Texas legislature this weekend turned its attention to targeting women and children," said Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, in a press release. "With the passage of sweeping abortion restrictions and two measures authorizing discrimination against LGBTQ families and kids, our lawmakers seem determined to make discrimination Texas's chief export."

"No amount of discrimination is acceptable," Equality Texas said in a statement Sunday night. "Targeting some of the most vulnerable children in our state is abhorrent, shameful and disgraceful. The Texas lawmakers of the 85th legislative session are on the wrong side of history."

Some Democratic lawmakers -- the bills were supported largely by Republicans -- spoke out as well. "America has long recognized that separate but equal is not equal at all," said Rep. Senfronia Thompson, a Houston Democrat, of the restroom measure, according to the Morning News. "What's wrong with treating kids with equality and not making them feel like they are second-class citizens?"

The bills have met with protest at the state capitol. Sunday, several female Democratic legislators occupied the men's restroom in protest of the anti-trans measure.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.