Rockwall City Council Rejects Proposed Restrictions On Public Bathrooms

“What do we want? To pee in peace,” they chanted. “When do we want to? Whenever we need to.”

By Christopher Connelly May 3, 2016 9:44 am,

From KERA News

The Rockwall City Council last night rejected the mayor’s controversial proposal that would have regulated bathroom use.

The proposal would have required people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate, not the gender with which they identify. Many say the proposal targets transgender people.

Before the meeting, about 70 advocates for transgender rights gathered in front of Rockwall City Hall to oppose the so-called bathroom bill. They held signs that said “transgender rights are human rights” and “We just need to pee.” They said the bill endangers transgender people.

“What do we want? To pee in peace,” they chanted. “When do we want to? Whenever we need to.”

Inside, the council chambers and the overflow room were packed. Dozens of Rockwall residents spoke – most against the bill, but many were for it. Rockwall County Attorney Kenda Culpepper said the bill was needed since corporations like Target and Planet Fitness announced policies to allow people to use the restroom they felt appropriate.

“This is about sexual predators who will use this issue or these policies of businesses encouraging people to use whatever restroom they feel like using that day to get into the bathroom and possibly assault children,” Culpepper said.

Brenda Roggencamp fired back. She says that her transgender daughter is not a boy in a girl’s dress – not a predator and not a pervert.

“I will not stand by as my child and other transgender children in this community are made second-class citizens because of governmental overreach,” Roggencamp says.

Also against the bill: the general manager of the Hilton hotel in Rockwall, who said his company thinks the bathroom policy would be seen as discriminatory and hurt tourism.

Mayor Jim Pruitt, who proposed the ordinance, said it’s purely about security – not discrimination. But in the end, Pruitt failed to get traction from his fellow council members. His council colleague, David White, says he opposed the bill as soon as he heard about it.

“Leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone, that’s my political philosophy,” White said. “And this did not do that. It got into the business of where people get rid of their bodily waste and I think that’s the kinda most ridiculous thing I’ve seen the city of Rockwall get involved with in the five years I’ve been on council.”

All of the other council members at the meeting said they wanted to protect children — but decided the law wasn’t the right way to do it.

After the council discussion, advocates for transgender rights hugged in celebration. But it was tempered by anticipation of more bathroom bills in other Texas towns. A Lufkin city council member said Sunday he’d introduce a similar bill there. And Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says a statewide bathroom bill could be a possibility when the legislature reconvenes next year.

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