On January 5, 2016, Senator Dan Patrick, unveiled a bill relating to regulations and policies for entering or using a bathroom or changing facility.  The bill authorizes civil penalties for violations of the law and increases criminal penalties for criminal acts occurring on the premises of a bathroom or changing facility.  Here are the highlights:

  • The bill defines a “bathroom or changing facility” as a facility where a person may be in a state of undress, including a restroom, locker room, changing room, or shower room.
  • The bill would prohibit a political subdivision from adopting or enforcing an order, ordinance, or other measure that relates to the designation or use of a private entity’s bathroom or changing facility or that requires or prohibits the entity from adopting a policy on the designation or use of the entity’s bathroom or changing facility.
  • In awarding a contract for the purchase of goods or services, a political subdivision may not consider whether a private entity competing for the contract has adopted a policy relating to the designation or use of the entity’s bathroom or changing facility.
  • School districts and open-enrollment charter schools will have to adopt a policy requiring each multiple-occupancy bathroom or changing facility accessible to students that is located in a school or school facility to be designated for and used only by persons based on the person’s biological sex. The bill defines “biological sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate.”
  • The bill does not prohibit a school district or open-enrollment charter school from providing an accommodation, including a single-occupancy bathroom or changing facility or the controlled use of a faculty bathroom or changing facility, on request due to special circumstances. However, the school district or open-enrollment charter school may not provide an accommodation that allows a person to use a multiple-occupancy bathroom or changing facility accessible to students that is designated for the biological sex opposite to the person’s biological sex.  Exceptions apply to persons entering facilities for custodial, maintenance, or medical purposes, or to assist those with special needs, as long as the person assisting is authorized to do so.
  • A private entity that leases or contracts to use a building owned or leased by the state or a political subdivision is not subject to a policy developed under the law, and it may not require or prohibit a private entity that leases or contracts to use a building owned or leased by the state or a political subdivision from adopting a policy on the designation or use of bathroom or changing facilities located in the building. Exceptions apply to persons entering facilities for custodial, maintenance, or medical purposes or to assist those with special needs.  It also does not apply to children under the age of eight.
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