LGBT News Roundup: Patrick Renews Push for Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick walks past pro-LGBT protesters Tuesday inside the Fort Worth ISD Administration Building. He hosted a press conference where he spoke against the district’s new guidelines protecting transgender students, which he said could be used as a springboard to further advance his conservative "school choice" plan.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick walks past pro-LGBT protesters in Fort Worth earlier this spring. Patrick’s opposes the school district’s guidelines protecting transgender students, and says they’re evidence that lawmakers should pass conservative “school choice” legislation.  John Wright

DALLAS: Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick on Thursday renewed his push for an anti-transgender “bathroom bill” in the 2017 legislative session, WFAA-TV reports. Speaking to the Dallas Regional Chamber, Patrick acknowledged that trans people have been using restrooms based on their gender identity for years without incident. But he warned that if cities and school districts pass trans-inclusive nondiscrimination laws, sexual predators will exploit those laws in the same way they “take advantage of the Internet.” Notably, there has never been a report of someone using a nondiscrimination ordinance to access a women’s restroom and commit a crime in Texas. Five Texas cities require businesses to allow trans people to use restrooms based on their gender identity, and some of the ordinances have been on the books for more than a decade. At the Dallas Morning News, business columnist Mitchell Schnurman draws attention to the irony of Patrick’s simultaneous support for a bathroom bill — which he’s now calling the “Women’s Privacy Act” — and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who’s effectively condoned sexual assault. Schnurman also warns of the economic dangers of Patrick’s proposal, pointing to business backlash over North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2.

AUSTIN: The City Council approved a resolution Thursday saying it will lobby against anti-LGBT bills next year. Mayor Steve Adler introduced an amendment to Austin’s State Legislative Agenda saying the city will oppose legislation that would diminish the city’s ability to protect civil rights, threaten its welcoming business environment or tarnish its status as an inclusive community, according to video from the council meeting posted online. Anti-gay councilperson Don Zimmerman, who faces gay challenger Jimmy Flannigan in the November 8 election, abstained from voting on Adler’s amendment, which otherwise passed unanimously. In addition to anti-trans bathroom bills, socially conservative Texas lawmakers have said they plan to introduce measures that would nullify local nondiscrimination ordinances protecting LGBT people, and allow businesses to circumvent the ordinances by invoking their “religious freedom.”

WICHITA FALLS: The federal government will appeal a Texas judge’s injunction barring the Obama administration from implementing new guidelines aimed at protecting trans students against discrimination, including when it comes to the use of school restrooms. As we reported Monday, the Department of Justice announced last week it would appeal U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s injunction in a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of more than a dozen states. The DOJ followed through on the announcement Thursday by filing formal notice that it’s taking the injunction to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Dallas Morning News’ Lauren McGaughy reports. However, it’s still unclear what exactly DOJ will be appealing. On Wednesday, in response to a request from DOJ to clarify his injunction, O’Connor reaffirmed that it applies nationwide, but didn’t address other key questions, according to BuzzFeed’s Dominic Holden.

HOUSTON: A transgender man is suing the city and two police officers, alleging they taunted and mocked him for not being “a real man” after arresting him on a bogus trespassing charge, the Houston Chronicle’s Keri Blakinger reports. In a complaint filed in Harris County state district court last month, Kris Smith also alleges the officers attempted to injure him by refusing to fasten his seatbelt and slamming on the brakes while transporting him to jail in handcuffs, causing his face to collide with a metal and plexiglass partition. Smith said he was arrested while talking on his cell phone on a public sidewalk near a Burger King in the city’s Montrose neighborhood. But police say Smith was sitting on a curb drinking a beer, and that a Burger King manager reported she’d asked him to leave the property because he was panhandling in the drive-through line. The trespassing charge was dismissed, and Smith is seeking up to $1 million in damages for wrongful prosecution and false imprisonment.

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John Wright is a freelance journalist based in Austin. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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