Apple, Samsung, IBM, and a number of other tech companies are pulling together to oppose a so-called "bathroom bill" brewing in the Texas Senate that is seen by critics as discriminatory toward transgender people, Inc. has learned.

This group of companies, which also includes the likes of Intel, Dell, Lenovo, and HP, is drafting a letter urging Texas lawmakers not to follow through with Senate Bill 6, according to a person who is familiar with the matter but is not yet authorized to speak publicly about it.

Senate Bill 6 echoes the wording of legislation passed last year in North Carolina that mandated people use bathrooms assigned to the gender listed on their birth certificates. On its face, the Texas bill has been promoted as a measure for keeping women safe from predators, but critics argue that the legislation would nullify local nondiscriminatory laws and specifically target transgender people.

The letter is expected to be addressed to Texas lawmakers and specifically to Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick--Patrick has been leading the charge for the bill.

The letter is being prepared by Keep Texas Open for Business, which is a coalition of businesses that stand against discriminatory legislation that could hurt companies in Texas. The group was created by the Texas Association of Businesses (TAB). Members of the coalition include Salesforce, SxSW, and RetailMeNot among others, according to the group's website.

Belinda Matingou, the regional executive director for TAB, confirmed that the letter is in the works and will include the signatures of "major American tech companies," although she declined to confirm the participation of individual companies. The group is still adding more companies. The letter could be sent as soon as this week and no later than early next week, Matingou said.

Senate Bill 6 "would make it difficult for our tech sector to recruit and retain the globally competitive talent that they need for their businesses to grow," Matingou told Inc. "And the economic impact that would result from a travel and tourism perspective would especially affect the small-business community in Texas."

At least one other tech company operating in Texas, Atlassian, has separately issued a statement in support of transgender people.

"Atlassian has a long history of supporting initiatives that support the inclusion of the LGBTI community," a spokeswoman for the company said in a statement. "Our mission is to unleash the potential in every team, and we know teams do their best work when every team member feels included and supported. To this end, we encourage all Atlassians and their guests to use the restroom they deem most appropriate. We look forward to continuing to create a vibrant, inclusive business community in Austin."

Published on: Jan 25, 2017