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San Antonio to require signs about domestic violence help in public restrooms starting in 2024

District 8 Councilman Manny Peleaz displaces a sign of what the poster could look like
Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez displays a sign of what the poster could look like

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The San Antonio City Council approved a new ordinance Thursday requiring signage in restrooms or areas of public accommodation that provide resources to people who may be experiencing domestic violence.

The ordinance takes effect in October of 2024. Places that service the public like restaurants, grocery stores, and department stores will be required to place signage near the restroom mirror or in a restroom stall, much like the familiar ‘employees must wash hands’ signs. The goal is to place contact information for these resources in a private area where victims can observe them away from their abusers.

San Antonio Metro Health will spend the next few weeks designing the poster with a phone number and QR code that leads people directly to national and local domestic violence support.

“The phone number and text number go to the national domestic violence hotline which is [answered] 24-seven by trained crisis counselors who will help people wherever they live, Bexar County or not,” said Erica Haller-Stevenson, Public Administrator for Violence Prevention at Metro Health. “And then the QR code will go to a website that we manage that displays resources and assistance for people locally.”

An enlarged draft version of the potential sign that would be displayed in restrooms. The final size of the posters will not be this big.
Courtesy of the City of San Antonio.
An enlarged draft version of the potential sign that would be displayed in restrooms. The final size of the posters will not be this big.

The Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence, a partnership between Bexar County and the City of San Antonio, reported approximately 40,000 domestic violence-related calls are made to the San Antonio Police Department each year. The data presented by the commission uses information from 2016 to 2019.

The measure was introduced by District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez in late 2021. Speaking at Thursday's city council meeting, Pelaez said San Antonio has a domestic violence problem at epidemic levels.

“When one in three women in San Antonio have or will have a domestic violence story to tell, we have a very serious problem, and it's an all hands-on deck moment and everybody is impacted,” he said.

For businesses there won’t be a financial penalty for not posting the sign, but if a business does not, Metro Health will follow up and provide the sign to them. The city expects to spend about $200,000 on the program, including the printing and distribution of the signs.

In his comments, Pelaez noted some business owners could push back against having to display the sign.

To those owners, I'll remind you that one-third of all women customers that come through your doors have this problem and one-third of your female employees have this problem,” he said. “So, whether or not you think it's a problem, one-third of the females that are your stakeholders, it's a problem for them and your objections have been heard…and yet we're still moving forward with this.”

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Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules