As “bathroom bills” targeting transgender individuals falter across the U.S., fizzling even in conservative bastions like Kansas and Arkansas following the upheaval over a North Carolina law last year, Texas Republicans are doubling down in their determination.
The resolve to make Texas only the second state to restrict bathroom access for transgender persons before Monday — when lawmakers adjourn until 2019 — is raising the possibility of a special session and exasperating business groups and LGBT rights organizations that have united in opposition for months.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday enough time remains for lawmakers to strike a deal. He said Texas must address student “privacy, safety and security” but didn’t say how far a bill must go — including whether it must require transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate.
Hours later, the state Senate rejected a version of LGBT restroom restrictions meant to apply only to public schools that the House passed last weekend, and asked for a conference committee. The Senate previously approved broader rules requiring all transgender Texans to use public restrooms corresponding to the genders on their birth certificates, and those differences will have to be reconciled.
But any version that emerges would make Texas the first state to pass a bill reminiscent of North Carolina’s controversial 2016 law that was partially repealed in March following intense political and economic backlash.
More than a dozen states this year considered bills restricting bathroom access for transgender people, including Kansas, where the GOP-controlled House this week refused to debate a “bathroom bill” amendment proposed by a freshman legislator.
It was emblematic of what LGBT rights groups say has doomed most efforts outside Texas: a lack of buy-in from Republicans in charge.
“They tended to be introduced by folks who were more extreme members of the party, were…