If Passed, Texas House Bills 46 and 50 Would Negatively Impact 13,800 Transgender Youth in the State

For Immediate Release:
July 18, 2017

Media Contact:
The Williams Institute
williamsinstitute@law.ucla.edu
(310) 267-4382

If Passed, Texas House Bills 46 and 50 Would Negatively Impact 13,800 Transgender Youth in the State

The bills could also create costs for school districts and the state

LOS ANGELES — Texas lawmakers have introduced two bills which would prohibit public schools from adopting and enforcing policies that allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity.

“The bills would negatively impact Texas’s 13,800 high school-aged youth who identify as transgender,” said Jody Herman, Senior Scholar of Public Policy at UCLA’s Williams Institute. “Restrictions on restroom access would hinder these students’ ability to fully participate in educational opportunities and could lead to health problems.”

HB 46 and HB 50 would stigmatize transgender students, a group already vulnerable to bullying and harassment. In response to a 2015 survey by GLSEN, three in five transgender students from Texas reported that they were prevented from using their preferred pronoun in school and 65 percent were unable to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents from Texas reported hearing negative remarks about transgender people in school. Additionally, in response to the U.S. Transgender Survey, 73 percent of respondents from Texas who were out or perceived as transgender while in K-12 said they experienced harassment or mistreatment at school.

Restrictions on restroom use can also lead to health problems for transgender people. In a survey of transgender people in Washington, DC, conducted by Dr. Herman, 54 percent of respondents reported having some sort of physical problem from trying to avoid public restrooms. Health problems included dehydration, urinary tract infections, kidney infections, and other kidney-related problems. Survey respondents also reported that problems using restrooms at school negatively impacted their education in some way, including excessive absences, negative impacts on performance, dropping out, or having to change schools.

In addition, policies that negatively impact transgender youth can have economic consequences for schools and the state of Texas. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin estimated that California schools are losing $276 million a year due to students missing school because they don’t feel safe. Bias-based bullying accounted for nearly half (45 percent) of these absences. Texas schools, like California schools, allocate certain school funds based on average daily attendance rather than enrollment, so policies that lead transgender students to avoid school can reduce funds available for education. Texas may also experience loss of business investment and reduced travel and tourism as a result of the bills. The Williams Institute estimated that after passing a bathroom law in 2016, North Carolina lost 1,250 new jobs and millions of dollars in travel and tourism spending due to cancelled sporting and entertainment events and state and local government travel bans.