From start to finish, the dominant issue of the Eighty-fifth Legislature was bathrooms. Specifically, whether to limit access in school and government multi-person bathrooms to the gender on a person’s birth certificate. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community saw it as discrimination. Major corporations saw it as an obstacle to employee recruitment. But social conservatives declared it an issue of public safety and individual comfort. In the end, it was the issue that crashed the session.


NOVEMBER 3, 2015

Pastors defeat Houston anti-discrimination ordinance in referendum.
Governor Gregg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick back pastors.

Winning slogan: “No men in women’s bathrooms, no boys in girls’ showers.”


MARCH 3, 2016

North Carolina approves law limiting bathroom access to biological sex.
This triggers boycotts costing $3.7 billion in lost economic activity.

Patrick promises a Texas law: “If it costs me an election, if it costs me a lot of grief, then so be it.”


MAY 12, 2016

President Obama orders equal bathroom and shower access for transgender students.
Patrick accuses Obama of using federal funds for Texas schools as “blackmail.”

Obama: “…the desire to accommodate others’ discomfort cannot justify a policy that singles out and disadvantages a particular class of students.”


JANUARY 5, 2017

Patrick and Senator Lois Kolkhorst unveil bathroom bill.
The bill limits transgender access in public schools and universities, and government buildings.

Patrick: “We know this is going to be a tough fight.”


Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, center, with other legislators and supporters of Senate Bill 6, talks to the media at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas.

AP Photo/Eric Gay, File


JANUARY 18, 2017

Speaker Joe Straus says bathroom bill might harm Texas business.
He warns of a repeat of North Carolina.

Straus: “Now is the time to speak up.”


FEBRUARY 29, 2017

Trump rescinds Obama’s transgender student rights order.
This negates the main argument for the Texas bill.

Kolkhorst: “The people of Texas must define for ourselves what boundaries are expected in our public facilities.”


MARCH 6, 2017

Patrick recruits fundamentalist Christians to help pass the bill.
He launches Operation One Million Voices.

Patrick: “North Carolina was the tip of the spear.”


MARCH 14, 2017

Texas Senate approves bathroom bill.
Democrats call it a solution in search of a problem.

Kolkhorst: “The people of Texas expect boundaries between gender.”


Members of the transgender community and others who oppose Senate Bill 6 protest in the exterior rotunda at the Texas state Capitol as the Senate State Affairs Committee holds hearings on the bill, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, in Austin, Texas.

AP Photo/Eric Gay


MARCH 27, 2017

Straus again speaks against the bathroom bill.
He calls the issue “manufactured and unnecessary.”

Straus: “Count me as a No.”


MARCH 30, 2017

North Carolina governor ends boycotts by overturning transgender bathroom law.
New law also prohibited local ordinances favoring LGBT rights.

LGBT rights group called it a “fake repeal.”


MAY 17, 2017

Patrick threatens to force special session on bathrooms.
Straus had not referred Senate bill to committee.

Patrick: “I will ask the governor to call us back again and again and again.”


MAY 22, 2017

House begins debate on bathroom bill.
This version only applies to public schools and is voluntary.

Patrick and Abbott say it is not enough.


MAY 26, 2017

Straus and Patrick deadlock on bathroom bills.
Patrick takes five state agency renewal bills hostage to force a special session.

Straus: “It’s absurd that bathroom bills have taken on greater urgency than fixing our school finance system.”


MAY 29, 2017

Regular session of the Eighty-fifth Legislature adjourns.
No legislation on transgender bathroom use passes.

Abbott: “When it gets to a special session, the time and the topics are solely up to the governor.”


Photographs by Spencer Platt/Getty Images, Bob Levey/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Mark Wilson/Getty Images, Ronald Martinez/Getty Images, and Anna Donlan.