After a long debate Tuesday, Texas Senators approved Senate Bill 6, which would require transgender people to use public bathrooms of their sex at birth, by a vote of 21-10.
The Senate must take up the bill again for its third reading before sending the bill to the House for its vote. The floor vote was taken in the Senate after a marathon hearing. Hundreds of individuals opposed the legislation.
For many, such as Dripping Springs ISD parents and students, the bill’s impact is personal.
Many Stripes, One Tiger, an organization supporting DSISD’s case-by-case approach to providing accommodations to transgender students, has opposed SB6 because its members say the bill is discriminatory.
The organization was created when parents rallied to oppose Texas Values, a faith-based conservative lobbyist group that opposed DSISD’s accommodations for a third grade transgender student at Walnut Springs Elementary.
The nine-year-old student’s request to use the girl’s restroom has been cited by legislators to justify SB6, said Andy Hutton, a creator of Many Stripes, One Tiger.
“We don’t think that’s right,” Hutton said. “We don’t think a law that hurts a nine-year-old child is good idea.”
Organization members have contacted local legislators, including state Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), whose children attend DSISD, and state Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) to express their opposition to SB6.
Hutton said he felt like Campbell, a SB6 co-author, hasn’t been responsive to parents’ concerns.
While Isaac has not officially taken a stance on SB6, he opposed DSISD’s decision at a press conference with Texas Values in November.
Parents also attended the bill’s hearing in front of the Senate State Affairs Committee Feb. 7 to testify and register their opposition, Hutton said. After more than 13 hours of testimony, mostly in opposition, the committee advanced the bill for Senate vote.
“We tried to make clear to the committee members how we feel,” Hutton said. “We want this issue to stay in hands of the teachers and the principal who know our kids.”
Educators understand students’ education needs and are better equipped to keep them safe and help them learn, Hutton said.
“I want them to understand the stories of these children, who are just trying to live their lives, be accepted just like any other kid would want to be,” Hutton said.
It’s important for people to know these kids in order to alleviate the anxiety and fear associated with sharing a restroom with someone who is transgender, Hutton said.
“The only way that can happen is through engaging with people who are different than you and who are transgender,” Hutton said.
DSISD parents never intended to become involved in a state-wide issue. But Hutton said he felt some state legislators used Walnut Springs Elementary for political ends to justify what they wanted do.
“I got involved in this because of a third grader at Walnut Springs who I thought was being unfairly singled out,” Hutton said. “This is a kid at my kids’ elementary school. We know her and we love her and she’s a fantastic kid.”