Battle over transgender bathrooms heats up in Texas

AUSTIN (KVUE) - Small business owners across Texas are gearing up to take on the lieutenant governor over transgender bathrooms.

Last week, Dan Patrick introduced what he's calling the "Women's Privacy Act." It limits people to using the bathroom of the sex listed on their birth certificate.

He said it's meant to keep predators from abusing local laws, which allow transgender people to use the restroom of their preference.

However, this week, a group of more than 200 small businesses across the state voiced their opposition to any legislation that would legalize discrimination against any group, including the transgender community. They said it will hurt their bottom line.

In North Carolina, a state law overturning city ordinances that had protected the LGBT community created quite the backlash.

Now, Texas businesses are worried the same thing will happen in the Lone Star State, and they'll miss out on all the money that the events bring.

The manager of Austin Java said the downtown coffee shop banks on big events coming to town.

“We make so much money off of people just coming into our city. Just people coming to our festivals, concerts, tourism, not just Texas, but all around the country,” said Stephen Petersen, Austin Java Manager.

In the open letter, the 200 businesses said they're feeling a growing sense of dread over the proposed Women’s Privacy Act.

“They’re already talking about SXSW going somewhere else, so that would just be a catalyst for them to do that. North Carolina is losing so much money, so many things, and I think that’s going to happen here,” said Peterson.

After a similar bill passed in North Carolina, the state is now set to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, due to canceled sporting events, conventions, concerts and corporate investments. The NCAA and NBA moved championship and all-star games out of the state.

“To some people, they consider us a small amount of the economic impact to Texas, but it’s still an impact, and any amount that would be taken away from that, hurts Texas, as a whole,” said Alan Bourgeois, Bourgeois Media & Consulting.

While the loss of revenue for these local businesses may not be in the millions, it still makes an impact.

“Thousands of dollars, when we have these festivals come into town, especially because of where we are, because of these hotels, that brings us at least two to three thousand dollars more than what we would make in a day,” said Stephen Petersen, Austin Java Manager.


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