Texas governor says ‘bathroom bill’ is no longer a priority

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott has changed his stance on a bill that seeks to limit transgender people’s access to bathrooms in public schools and government buildings, saying it was no longer a priority as he seeks re-election.

Abbott, a Republican, made a “bathroom bill” one of his priority items in a legislative special session last year. But the measure died in the session after business leaders and civil rights groups fought back, saying it advanced bigotry, would tarnish the state’s image and damage its economy.

“It’s not on my agenda,” Abbott said in a debate with Lupe Valdez, the former sheriff of Dallas County who is the Democratic candidate for governor. Abbott did not say if he would sign a bill if one landed on his desk.

Valdez, the first openly gay or lesbian major party candidate for governor in the history of Texas, has fought against bathroom bills, saying the legislation addresses a nonexistent problem and stirs discrimination against transgender people.