Top leaders of the National Episcopal Church say the proposed Texas "bathroom bill" will trigger "hatred and fear" of transgender people if passed.
Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings made their concerns known in a letter to Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, who has opposed the bill that would force transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools and government buildings based on their "biological sex."
"We … urge you to remain steadfast in your opposition during the legislature's current special session.
"As the presiding officers of the Episcopal Church, we are firmly opposed to 'bathroom bills' and particularly reject the idea that women and children are protected by them," they write.
"As clergy who remember racist Jim Crow bathroom laws that purported to protect white people, we know the kind of hatred and fear that discriminatory laws can perpetuate.
"As you know, the Episcopal Church supports local, state and federal laws that prevent discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression and opposes any legislation that seeks to deny the dignity, equality, and civil rights of transgender people."
Curry and Jennings also hinted they could move the church's nine-day General Convention out of Austin next year if the bill is passed.
"We must be able to ensure that all Episcopalians and visitors to our convention, including transgender people, are treated with respect, kept safe, and provided appropriate public accommodation consistent with their gender identities," they wrote.
"In 1955, we were forced to move a General Convention from Houston to another state because Texas laws prohibited black and white Episcopalians from being treated equally. We would not stand then for Episcopalians to be discriminated against, and we cannot countenance it now.
"It would be especially unfortunate if this special session of the Texas legislature presented us with the same difficult choice that church leaders faced more than sixty years ago."
Earlier this month, a panel of Senate lawmakers voted 8-1 to advance a measure that would restrict bathroom use for transgender Texans.
Estimates put the number of transgender adults in Texas at about 125,350 and the number of transgender children aged 13 to 17 at 13,800, The Texas Tribune reports.
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