Petition intended to protect privacy in public restrooms falls short

Pooja Lodhia Image
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
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The organizer says there are plenty of signatures, but Houston officials say there aren't enough

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A group called Houstonians for Family Values presented thousands of signed petitions Tuesday for a charter amendment specifying which bathrooms transgender people can use, but the mayor says they didn't submit enough to get the issue on the ballot.

The group's founder, Houston Community College Trustee Dave Wilson, said he had 19,707 signatures.

State statute requires 20,000 signatures for a charter amendment.

And the mayor says he can't simply go out and get 293 additional signatures; he would have to start over.

The amendment seeks to prohibit those born as men from using women's restrooms.

"Do you want your mother to be in the women's restroom and a man walks in on that? I don't think so. That's totally out of the question," Wilson said.

The fight over gender identity in restrooms has been a hot topic in Houston for more than a year, and has by far been the most controversial portion of the city's equal rights ordinance. After several re-drafts, the ordinance doesn't specifically cover the issue of transgender people and restrooms, but does allow transgender people to file complaints against businesses if they feel discriminated against.

"There are plenty of things to keep predators out of bathrooms," said Mayor Annise Parker. "You can't go into the bathroom of the opposite sex with the purpose of committing a crime."