Read Senator Huffines' Op-Ed On Dallas' LGBT Bathroom Ordinance
Don Huffines: More questions than answers raised by Dallas’ LGBT ordinance
College campuses all across the United States are seeing a dangerous clash where free speech and intellectual discussion are being pitted against students’ self-proclaimed right to not be offended or challenged in their beliefs. Regrettably, the debate over Dallas’ LGBT ordinance is following that same trajectory, where respectful disagreement and civil discourse are lacking. That must change, and it must start with a careful examination of Dallas’ ordinance.
On Nov. 10, the City Council voted to strengthen language keeping the transgender community a protected class, and to expand existing law to cover additional residential facilities. In representative government, process matters as much as policy.
The full ordinance language was only released publicly on Nov. 3. It was debated in a 45-minute closed-door meeting on Nov. 9, after which a committee sent it to the full Council. Going from studies by an obscure city task force to enacting a citywide ordinance without any public debate by the people who will be most impacted is irresponsible.
City council members contend most of these rules have existed since 2002, and that the Dallas LGBT task force has been studying this issue for over a year. They are correct, but I doubt they realize the full consequences of the policies they continue to advance. Furthermore, focusing on when Dallas’ bathroom ordinance was first adopted is a distraction. We should be discussing the long-term ramifications of the ordinance and its troublesome language.
The ambiguity of the law is of great concern, as are the potential implications for business owners. Businesses and groups serving the public are required to accommodate “… an individual’s real or perceived gender identity…” How do law enforcement and the courts interpret “perceived” gender? Furthermore, the employment protections offered by this ordinance may conflict with Texas’ status as an “at will” employment state. I fear the potential for lawsuits may actually disincentivize businesses from hiring citizens in the LGBT community.
Families are no less impacted. Per the law, a man can perceive to be a different gender in order to use the women’s showers at his local gym, or enter the women’s restroom at the mall. Not only are both business owners and patrons required to accommodate him, the law gives him legal preference over a mother concerned for her children. Should men with a criminal record of child molestation be permitted to use women's restrooms, even if they perceive themselves that way? The ambiguity of the law regarding these types of questions is a great concern.
This is not a civil rights issue, and to define it as such is an insult to those who fought that battle. This is about a small, but vocal minority seeking government promotion of their sexual choices or “perceived” gender. This is government looking for a solution to an alleged problem, and creating much larger legal and moral issues, in turn.
Perhaps the most immediate and pertinent question is this: will the Dallas City Council embrace transparent and open government that comes with a full public review of the ordinance, or will they continue to foster an imbalance that favors political correctness over free speech and traditional values?
This City Council, which is currently serving, may not have created the ordinance, but they chose to advance it on Nov. 10, and they can choose to allow additional discussion. I hope they will seize that mantle, and give Dallas families a chance to fully consider and discuss the consequences of our city’s regrettable bathroom ordinance. Ultimately, the Council must either repeal Dallas’ bathroom ordinance, or at minimum, subject it to an open and honest election like the one that transpired in Houston.
Please sign your name if you want to keep men out of women's restrooms!
Dallas’ LGBT ordinance allows men in women’s restrooms in restaurants, bars, hotels, and other private businesses, and that’s bad for Dallas families. Allowing men in women’s restrooms - and vice versa - is bad for families and business owners. The Dallas LGBT ordinance caters to political correctness and the whims of a vocal minority while risking the safety of Dallas women and children.