After hours of testimony, the House Committee on State Affairs decided to leave their version of a “bathroom bill” pending.
Public testimony on House Bill 2899 began around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday and ended around 4:40 a.m. Thursday. Around 400 people signed up to speak on the bill, with more than 350 registered against the bill. If signed into law, HB 2899 would not allow local governments or school districts to make rules that allow transgender people to use restrooms that match their gender identity.
New Hope Mayor Jess Herbst, who came out as transgender in February, told lawmakers all her life she has watched groups “stand up and demand the rights they deserve,” and says that’s what’s happening here.
"One day everybody will be treated with respect and equality, and history will tell that story, ladies and gentleman of the committee, what side of history will you be on?" Herbst asked.
“HB 2899 would remove my daughter’s school's ability to keep her safe should any issue arise in the future, her school would be stripped of any ability to protect her,” said Rachel Gonzales, the mother of a transgender child.
Jack Finger with the San Antonio Family Associate says he feels protection should be given to characteristics that “can’t be changed – like race.”
"This bill is about safety, make no mistake about that, it's not about discrimination, perpetrators are using gender identity as an excuse and they're getting away with it,” Finger said.
"This is a very complicated issue and I understand the significance of your decision making here, but I would ask that you err on the side of safety of our children,” said a representative of Protect Life and Marriage.
HB 2899 is not the senate’s version of the bathroom bill. Their version, Senate Bill 6, was passed March 15 by a 21-10 vote and would require people to use bathrooms based on the sex on their birth certificate. As of Thursday morning it has not been assigned a committee in the Texas House.