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Lawmakers Hold Hearing On Bathroom Privacy Bills Friday

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) - Hundreds of people are expected to testify Friday morning at the Texas Capitol during a hearing about two newly proposed bathroom privacy bills.

The Senate's State Affairs committee will conduct the hearing on SB 3 and SB 91 filed by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham.

Among those who will testify is 15-year-old Alex Pettigrew, a transgender boy from Garland. "I'm angry about the legislation."

On Thursday, he packed his bags for the drive down to Austin. "I'm happy to go down to testify for my basic human rights, but I don't think I should have to do that in the first place."

If SB 3 or SB 91 is approved, people would have to use the multi-occupancy bathrooms and locker rooms in local government buildings and public schools that match their birth gender.

Cathie Adams, a grandmother and national board member of the conservative group, Eagle Forum praises the legislation. "I absolutely support this bill. The grassroots are very enlivened and want this bill finished, passed."

Adams and other supporters say this isn't about transgender people, but about keeping sexual predators out of women's and girls' bathrooms and locker-rooms.

But Pettigrew says he believes transgender people are being unfairly targeted. "If a pervert were to go into a restroom, it wouldn't matter about gender identity. People would be able to tell that there's a difference between trans people and perverts."

Adams disagrees, "There are others who are dressing as transgender, even if they're not, and they are predators, and so this is just part of a law that has got to distinguish right from wrong."

Other proposed bathroom privacy bills, HB 46 and HB 50, proposed by Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, would also negate all local ordinances and written school district policies relating to multi-occupancy bathrooms and locker rooms.

But they allow and encourage school districts to make accommodations for individual students.

A similar bill has been filed in the Senate, SB 23, but a hearing isn't scheduled on this legislation.

Adams though says, "I think the schools are trying to push the envelope."

Pettigrew says he's been allowed to use the men's room at his Garland high school without hearing any complaints.

While he wants that to continue, he says all of the bills go too far. "I'm not at school 24/7, so this won't give me protection all the time. It's about protection everywhere."

After the hearing, the Senate committee is expected to pass the bills and send them to the full Senate for a vote next week.

No hearings have been set just yet in the House yet, where Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, strongly opposed the bills and blocked similar measures during the regular session.

But Simmons says he'll keep fighting for his bills.

On Wednesday, 41 Republicans joined him as coauthors.

Straus, moderate Republicans and Democrats say they don't like the bathroom privacy bills because they'll hurt Texas' reputation as a pro-business state that welcomes everyone.

The Texas Association of Business has also sharply criticized the legislation, and on Thursday announced that it's launching a million dollar media advertising campaign across Texas against bathroom privacy bills.

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