The Republican Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives recently spoke out against the push for a transphobic bathroom bill in his state. Joe Straus has combated the efforts of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who is attempting to push forward a bill that the Independent notes have been “widely viewed as discrimination toward transgender people.” Senate Bill 6 would prevent transgender individuals from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity as well as prevent municipalities from instituting LGBT-rights ordinances.
In blocking SB6, Mr. Straus has called it “manufactured and unnecessary.” More importantly, Mr. Straus has previously commented that he believes such a bill would have a negative impact on Texas’ economy, as has been the case in North Carolina after the passage of their controversial HB2 law restricting bathroom access for transgender individuals. However, he attacked the bathroom bill from a new angle last Monday, when he was quoted in the New Yorker saying, “I’m disgusted by all this. Tell the lieutenant governor I don’t want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands.”
The assessment that such a bill could produce an environment that would be the cause of such suicides is supported by the largest ever survey of transgender individuals, which was conducted last December. According to the Independent, “That survey found that pervasive discrimination and harassment — a situation that critics say would be created by the bathroom bill — led 40 percent of respondents to say they’d tried to kill themselves at some point.”
Many similar bills have been introduced and backed by Republicans in recent years. In late June, California added Texas to a list of states banned from state-sponsored travel over issues of LGBT discrimination. The reason for doing so was a recent law that could prevent LGBT parents from fostering or adopting children. That bill was spearheaded by many Texas Republicans like Mr. Straus. According to Logo, Mr. Straus has mentioned in interviews that “he’s disheartened to watch the Republican Party become increasingly influenced by Christian ideologues and cultural concerns at the expense of economic issues.” It would be Mr. Straus’ preference that the Republican party and the government of Texas focus on fiscal issues and avoid “divisive stuff.” In his interview with the New Yorker, Mr. Straus was quoted saying, “A few loud and fanatical people occasionally unsettle the majority of Republicans, who are really mainstream.”
Mr. Straus was successful in blocking SB6 from being passed during a regular session of the Texas legislature. However, it is possible that Governor Abbott will introduce a new bathroom bill during an upcoming special session of the legislature. While it is not guaranteed that Mr. Straus will continue his opposition of such bills, he has indicated that he plans to continue to oppose such discriminatory legislation and has strategies planned to combat them effectively.