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“Bathroom Bill” Takes Center Stage As Real Danger to Texas Kids Takes Back Seat
Discrimination against transgender Texans has public health consequences

HOUSTON – Today, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst unveiled a “bathroom bill” that would, they say, prevent men from going in women’s restrooms in schools or government buildings.

“Who in the world wants men in women’s restrooms? No one,” said Kevin Nix, senior director of public affairs and communications at Legacy Community Health. “This is a fake issue –it’s already illegal to enter a restroom to harm or harass – and one that discriminates against transgender people. The real threat lawmakers must look at is predators going after our sons and daughters on the internet, not in bathrooms. Cybercrime is the clear and present danger.”

Last year, law enforcement stings in the Houston led to the arrest of 126 online child predators last year, while fifteen online predators – out of 100 who contacted undercover officers posing at 14 and 15-year old girls, were nabbed in North Texas.  Hundreds more are online camouflaged and creeping on social media sites, apps, and gaming systems like Xbox waiting to lure women and children.

As one of nation’s largest community health centers, Legacy sees up close the reality that transgender youth are at much higher risk for depression as their non-transgender peers. More than 40% of transgender Americans try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with almost 5% of the general public, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“The impact of a very public and mean-spirited conversation around restroom use increases anxiety about personal safety among many transgender people,” said Dr. Chad Lemaire, medical director of behavioral health at Legacy. “Texas lawmakers and the media should tread carefully here.”

Legacy Community Health, a not-for-profit Federally Qualified Health Center, provides adult primary care, pediatrics, OB/GYN and maternity, HIV/AIDS care, dental, vision and behavioral health to more than 100,000 patients, regardless of their ability to pay. Legacy is a United Way of Greater Houston agency.