DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Texas took center stage in the debate over bathroom privacy Thursday afternoon. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced a bill to limit transgender women from using public women's restrooms. The proposed legislation drew sharp opposition from a coalition of Dallas Business leaders.
The non-profit group that promotes Dallas as a destination for business and tourism is called VisitDallas. The organization's CEO held a news conference alongside dozens of local business leaders opposed to the legislation sponsored by Senator Lois Kolkhorst. The bill provides guidelines to public schools and buildings -- requiring people to the use the restroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate.
Business leaders said the bill not only discriminates against the transgender community, but it projects an unwelcoming attitude toward visitors to the state. They warn it could cause a negative economic impact the way a similar bill in North Carolina has sparked controversy and calls for boycotts. But Patrick says the change in law is essential for public safety.
"It protects children in public school and everyone who uses a public restroom, shower or locker," Patrick said at an Austin news conference.
"We need to have laws on our books that are open, inviting, and non-discriminatory. No one's asking for legislation. No one is coming to us saying we have a problem," VisitDallas CEO Phillip Jones said at the Dallas news conference.
The Lt. Governor is claiming widespread public support for the bill based on a study commissioned in November that asked Texas what they think. But business leaders warn passage of the bill could cost the state as much as $8.5 billion in lost economic activity.
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