A state representative from Collin County is drafting a bill that would take on the transgender policy debate without using the term ‘transgender’ or talking about restrooms. He believes cities and school districts should not spend time creating their own transgender policies.
The Mesquite city council took up the issue Monday night and proposed changes to its equal opportunity policy. The state representative says the conversation happening there should not be happening at a local level.
It was a packed house at Mesquite City Hall for the vote to change the city's equal employment opportunity policy. The city added the words ‘gender identity’ and ‘sexual orientation’ to its non-discrimination policy for employees and job applicants. That caught the attention of Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz.
"You continue to see the local government and you see the federal government trying to force the citizens to accept a policy that's not required in law,” said Saenz.
But the City of Mesquite says this is strictly about employees. It says the policy changes are a result of the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage to "expand protection and benefits to city employees."
Saenz's concern is that the policy will extend to city property, which would then affect the public when using city swimming pools, recreation centers and restrooms.
And it's the kind of worry from the public that has Republican State Representative Matt Shaheen out of Plano and far North Dallas taking some action.
"I didn't run for office to talk about bathrooms,” the state representative said.
Shaheen is drafting a bill that will give the authority to protect a class of people solely to the state, meaning cities and school districts cannot take action to protect a class of people, like those who are transgender.
"The state wants our local and political subdivisions to be focused on what they were created for and not social policy,” said Shaheen.
The state representative is frustrated that Fort Worth ISD is hosting forums to talk about its transgender policy rather than the district's 20+ underperforming schools.
"They need to be focused on those schools and not who goes to the bathroom where,” said Shaheen.
Shaheen knows there will be several bills filed at the end of this year pertaining to transgender restrooms, but thinks his will have a shot. It would not include the word ‘transgender’ or ‘restroom,’ but would instead ensure that businesses, cities and school boards could not take measures to protect groups of people, including those who are transgender.
"I just want the government out of the bathroom business,” said Shaheen. “So I don't want us mandating who goes to the bathroom in a school or a business."
Shaheen says his bill could be filed as soon as November and be considered by the legislature next year.