#MeToo Bills Gain Momentum in Texas Legislature

April 22, 2019 AT 8:05 AM

By Andrea Zelinski 

Jail time for groping. Flagging college students who are expelled for sexual assault. Money to test forensic evidence in thousands of “rape kits” to resume stalled investigations.

In the first Texas legislative session since the #MeToo movement exposed the plight of women who endure sexual harassment and violence by men in power, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have filed nearly 100 bills focused on sex offenses this year. Some of them appear poised to become law this year after winning overwhelming support from lawmakers in both parties.

“This movement has left strong fingerprints on this legislative session,” said Rep. Mary González, D-El Paso. She is carrying one such bill that would strengthen the state’s “revenge porn” law by punishing people who intentionally harm a former partner by sharing sexually explicit images without consent.

In late 2017, #MeToo was the hashtag that punctuated a national exposé of sexual harassment by men in positions of power and influence. Millions of people weighed in, many of them women telling gut-wrenching stories of their own experiences. Facebook reported more than 12 million posts, comments and reactions to the topic in the first 24 hours the viral conversation took hold. The energy gave birth to another movement, called #TimesUp, suggesting “the clock has run out” on inequality and injustice in the workplace.