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

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

A similar effort also collapsed in 2015. If it becomes law, Texas would be the only state with a statute restricting bathrooms for transgender schoolchildren. "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.

"It's creating separate but equal bathrooms", said Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, of the transgender bathroom amendment.

State lawmakers passed the bill on Sunday that allows adoption agencies to turn away clients on religious grounds.

Supporters described limiting the scope to schools as "middle ground" and hinted that it could soften the kinds of costly boycotts that hit North Carolina after it approved its bathroom bill a year ago. Proponents of the legislation object to transgender people using bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, often citing concerns over the privacy of women and girls.

The Senate passed the bill earlier this month and the House tentatively approved it Monday on a voice vote.

"It's like this little ESA mouse running around, and this elephant is like, 'Oh, oh my God, ' freaking out about it and it's tiny", said Taylor, who estimates around 5,000 of the state's 5.3 million public school students would use the voucher in his bill.

On Monday, Abbott continued his defense of the bill, releasing a list of almost two dozen police chiefs and law enforcement officials along the Texas-Mexico border signing onto a weekend editorial from Abbott in support of the law.

The latest version of the bathroom bill would require schools to provide single-person bathrooms, should transgender people elect to use them.

"This amendment was more about using trans kids as a negotiating tool at a contentious point in the session than about making kids safer", Rep. Celia Israel, a leader in opposing the bill said.

The measure heads back to the Senate for consideration of changes made since it was in that chamber.

Also Monday, officials with the Keep Texas Open for Business Coalition - which includes Apple, Intel, IBM and about 70 other corporations - said the House transgender bathroom ban was not business-friendly.

Democratic state Representative Senfronia Thompson noted this issue, drawing comparisons between the bill and Jim Crow-era laws enforcing segregation between races.

"In the middle of the night, the Texas Senate voted for a voucher scheme that will rob taxpayer money from public schools and give it to private schools", said Ann Beeson, executive director of the left-leaning policy group the Center for Public Policy Priorities. The bill passed over vehement objections from business and civil rights groups. Federal judges this spring found intentional discrimination in the state's voter ID law and Republican-drawn voting maps, and last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a sweeping Texas anti-abortion law that prompted more than half of the state's abortion clinics to close.

After witnessing North Carolina's experience - losing over $3 billion as a result of boycotts, according to an Associated Press analysis - lawmakers in states across the country have been reluctant to take a stance on the transgender bathroom debate for fear of public backlash.