If Passed, Texas Senate Bill 6 Would Negatively Impact Over 125,000 Transgender Adults in Texas and Thousands of Transgender Youth

For Immediate Release:
January 6, 2017

Media Contact:
Noel Alumit, alumit@law.ucla.edu
Office: 310-794-2332
Cell: 323-828-5554

If Passed, Texas Senate Bill 6 Would Negatively Impact Over 125,000 Transgender Adults in Texas and Thousands of Transgender Youth  

SB6 Would Also Create Costs for State Businesses, Budget and Economy 

LOS ANGELES – On January 5, Texas Republicans introduced Senate Bill 6, which would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings, and public universities based on “biological sex” and would pre-empt local nondiscrimination ordinances that allow transgender Texans to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

SB6 would negatively impact over 125,000 transgender adults in Texas.  Texas ranks 5th in the United States in terms of adults who identify as transgender (0.66 percent) and over 60 percent of transgender adults in Texas are People of Color – 44 percent are Latino and 13 percent are African-American.

In addition, SB6 would negatively impact transgender youth and young adults in the state.  Texas is home to 19,600 transgender adults aged 18 to 24, and thousands of transgender youth under 18.  With its focus on schools, SB6 means transgender students in Texas can’t fully participate in their education.  Further, research shows that limiting access to restrooms creates health problems for transgender people and exposes them to harassment and bullying.

SB6 would add to an already challenging legal environment in Texas. Texas currently lacks a state law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and SB6 undermines exiting local protections.  At least four localities in Texas prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public and private sector employment, and at least seven localities protect local government workers or employees of local government contractors from such discrimination. Approximately 86 percent of Texas’ workforce, however, is not covered by these laws and SB6 would pre-empt those ordinances that fully protect LGBT workers.

In response to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 79 percent of transgender people from Texas reported having experienced harassment or mistreatment at work; 45 percent reported that they were not hired; 26 percent reported that they were fired; and 22 percent reported being denied a promotion because of their gender identity or expression.  Aggregated data from two large public opinion polls found that 79 percent of Texas residents think that LGBT people experience a moderate amount to a lot of discrimination in the state.

By moving toward exclusion and away from inclusion, SB6 contributes to the discriminatory environment that LGBT people face at school, in the workplace, in housing, and in public life – creating health and economic disparities for LGBT people in the state and taking a significant toll on LGBT youth in particular.

SB6 also conflicts with federal laws, the laws of other states, and the policies of most large companies.  At least forty of the fifty-one Fortune 500 companies based in Texas have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and at least twenty-two of them also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.  In response to a national poll conducted in 2011, 73 percent of respondents from Texas said that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be prohibited in the U.S.

As a result of SB6, Texas risks the following economic impacts:

  • Loss of Business Investment – The loss of hundreds of millions of dollars of business investment, leading to the loss of thousands of jobs  an impact that other states, such as North Carolina, have experienced when they have passed similar laws.
  • Reduced Travel and Tourism – The loss of millions of dollars of travel, tourism, and event spending that would support local jobs and state and local tax revenues.
  • Costs of Litigation and Enforcement – There would be significant costs in pursuing and defending litigation and enforcement actions related to SB6.
  • Loss of Federal Funding –  The loss of over billions of dollars in federal contracts and grants, including $10 billion in funding for Texas schools, colleges, and universities.  Despite a recent decision by a Texas federal court, this funding will be at risk until the Supreme Court resolves the issue later this year.

Further, a growing body of research finds that supportive workplace policies and practices have a positive impact on employer outcomes.  By adding to an already challenging environment for LGBT people and pre-empting local laws, SB6 undermines the advantages of diversity in the workplace, erodes worker productivity, and makes talented LGBT and non-LGBT employees in Texas more difficult to recruit and retain:

  • Productivity – Research shows that a poor legal and social climate can mean that LGBT workers are less likely to be openly LGBT at work and more likely to be distracted, disengaged, and less productive.
  • Retention – When LGBT workers are in less supportive workplaces, they feel less employer loyalty and are more likely to leave.  Each LGBT employee who leaves a job in Texas would cost thousands of dollars to replace.
  • Recruitment – Many LGBT and non-LGBT workers, in particular millennials, prefer to work for LGBT-inclusive companies and in states with more supportive laws.  SB6 would make it harder for Texas to attract the best and brightest.

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The Williams Institute, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.