Texas' state leadership, led by Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, may be set on passing legislation telling transgender Texans which bathroom to use during the upcoming special session, but Dallas ISD board members Miguel Solis and Dan Micciche aren't having any of it.
Ahead of the special session, set to begin Tuesday, state Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) has filed two bathroom bills in the Texas House. The first, House Bill 46, would ban "political subdivisions, including a public school district” from "protect[ing] a class of persons from discrimination” with regard to “access to multi-occupancy restrooms, showers or changing facilities." Simmons' second bill, House Bill 50, is identical but would apply only to school boards.
Solis blasted both bills at a Wednesday press conference for attempting to wrest local control from Dallas ISD.
"We cannot protect children from discrimination?" Solis asked. "Rep. Simmons, Lt. Gov. Patrick, Gov. Abbott, have you no sense of decency left?"
Micchiche, the Dallas ISD board's president, said that bills would be a waste of time and resources. Enforcing the law would require placing a police officer in every bathroom in every school, he said, in order to make sure each student was using the restroom consistent with the sex listed on his or her birth certificate, as the law would require.
Solis and Micchiche stood in the heat in front of Dallas ISD's Ross Avenue headquarters with Dallas ISD teacher Johnny Boucher. Boucher, a transgender man, expressed doubt over the purpose of the bills, which Patrick, Abbott and Simmons have said are intended to keep men out of women's restrooms. Boucher worries that female colleagues won't feel comfortable with his presence in their bathroom.
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"I have even asked my esteemed colleagues at school, 'How do you feel about me using the ladies room?' They say 'We know you wouldn't bother us, Mr. Boucher, but perhaps it wouldn't seem polite,'" he said.
Dallas ISD has been protecting its students from bullying or discrimination based on gender expression or identity since 2011. In a statement issued Tuesday, the district said that it opposes the bill. "In order to serve all students based on their needs, we allow each campus administration to address any concerns on an individual basis. As such, Dallas ISD is opposed to the proposed legislation," the district said.
Solis was emphatic about his opposition Wednesday as the press conference wound down.
"Gov. Abbott, if you haven't heard us already, let me make sure that we're clear as we close this press conference. It's time to flush the 'show me your gender' bill down the toilet," Solis said.