Public hearing underway for controversial bathroom bill

With song and with banners, Advocates for the transgender community gathered at the state capital Tuesday. At times the committee hearing for the legislation commonly known as the bathroom bill looked more like a rally. Some made fun of Senate Bill 6, like a man dressed as Moses who held card board signs that read, "let my people go to the bathroom."

In a Capitol Extension hearing room equally colorful statements were made, like that from a woman who told the committee she was a lesbian and a supporter of SB 6 . In her opinion political correctness was a threat to areas she considered to be private.

"A trans-activists, I heard him say the other day to another woman, that we women are just going to have to get used to penises in our spaces," said the woman to the committee.

SB6 limits access to public restrooms based on a persons gender at birth. A father and his 10-year-old daughter from Dripping Springs were among those to explain why they support the bill.

"Last year my wife and I, we were deeply concerned to find out the school administration had decided to allow boys in the bathroom with girls," said the man who asked to be identified by his first name of Rob.

His daughter, Shiloh, also expressed her concern about having to share a school restroom with a classmate of another sex.

"Very very uncomfortable, the thought of a boy coming in the bathroom with me is scary and it worries me because I want the bathroom to stay a private place to where a boy cannot come in because he is of the opposite gender," said Shiloh.

The legislation, which is sponsored by Senator Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, allows for private businesses to opt out.

"People and customers will go where they feel comfortable and what best suits them," said Kolkhorst.

SB 6 applies to restrooms in places like public schools and state buildings.

"I would like to go to the bathroom just like anyone else," said Kayla Fricano who also goes by Kyle.

Fricano is transitioning to become a man. She believes the legislation unfairly targets people like her.

"Transgender individuals have been going to the bathrooms they've identified with for decades and there's never been an issue, there's an issue now because people wanted it to be an issue," said Fricano who added her purpose for going to a restroom has nothing to do with having a sexual encounter.

Supporters say all they're trying to do is protect women like Dana Hodges, who testified Tuesday.

"Going through this experience was especially dramatic for me as a survivor of rape that happened when I was a teenager," said Hodges.

Hodges went on to testify she was later victimized again after learning about a camera that was set up in a restroom she had used.

"I can say that it's a very real threat having a man with unrestricted access to the women's restroom is a very real threat not only are there rapes and violent episodes happening against women but they're also being videotaped like what happened to me."

The law does not provide a way to enforce it; there is no bathroom place. It does provide a mechanism for someone to file a complaint which is to be investigated by local authorities.

It's believed SB 6 will eventually clear the state Senate but its fate in the house chamber remains uncertain.