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Utah Bill Would Force Transgender Students to Use Separate Bathrooms

Utah Bill Would Force Transgender Students to Use Separate Bathrooms

Written by Zach Ford and Josh Israel

A Utah state legislator filed a bill Wednesday that would prevent students from using school bathrooms that were not consistent with their biological “male or female phenotype.” By defining gender as the same as sex, it would reject the existence of gender identity and force transgender kids to either risk their safety and use the wrong bathroom or face isolation by using a separate private bathroom.

Rep. Mark Kennedy’s (R) House Bill 87 would change Utah law to prohibit students from using “a public school’s gender-segregated bathroom if the bathroom does not correspond to the student’s gender.” Kennedy told a local newspaper that the bill was a reaction to California and designed to make sure that no similar protections are given in Utah to transgender students. “We are just trying to make sure people are comfortable,” he argued.

But defining a person’s gender based on their birth certificate or a doctor’s examination of the “physical examination of the individual’s genitalia,” as his bill aims to do, would hardly accomplish that objective.

Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah, told ThinkProgress that her group strongly hopes this “unnecessary and dehumanizing” bill does not move forward. Transgender people, she observed, “are average human beings who simply want to go to school or work, do their work, and go home. They simply want reasonable accommodations.” The problem with this bill and others like it that seek to discriminate against LGBT people, she noted, “is seeking to set us apart — to put us on the outside of the regular every day lives.”

Balken added that forcing transgender students to use separate bathroom facilities could have a hugely damaging impact on them emotionally. “We know this, from being kids ourselves. We all want to be included.”

Studies have shown that kids whose gender does not match their “male of female phenotype” (as defined by Kennedy) already suffer from high rates of depression and suicide attempts. The Maine Supreme Court ruled Thursday that denying bathroom access to trans students is discrimination, and judges in Colorado and California have similarly ruled on their behalf.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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156 comments

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5:45AM PST on Feb 8, 2014

Abolish apartheit! Separate but equal is NOT equal!

8:21AM PST on Feb 7, 2014

Here's a thought. Why don't we treat public restrooms the way we treat restrooms in our own homes? It's the same toilet, regardless what your chromosomes are... Instead of labeling it "Boys" and "Girls," just label it "Toilets." If you want to have a separate area, or even a separate room, just for urinals, go ahead, have at it. And label that room "Urinals."

Of course, we COULD just all grow up and stop being ashamed of bodies and bodily functions, but sometimes that seems like too much to hope for.

2:41AM PST on Feb 7, 2014

that man has his head stuck up his arse!!!!!! i don't have a problem with transgender we need to teach the next generation it's okay not the opposite.

12:52AM PST on Feb 7, 2014

Utah: where children get their lunches taken away from them, and where politicians will bend over backwards to figure out how to deny as many different people equality as possible.

2:05PM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Single use bathrooms are the answer. We have them all over the place. A few more would not kill us. Some places could use these for mothers also. Why not single use bathrooms marked as such to accommodate all kinds of people!!!

9:52AM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Some schools have single use bathrooms. More of these could be created thereby solving the problem and no one would be made uncomfortable. Single use bathrooms are currently available at fast food places why not schools and other organizations?

6:00AM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

5:52AM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

2:09AM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Thank you

8:18PM PST on Feb 5, 2014

TW TRANSPHOBIA, TW CISSEXISM, TW SUICIDE
"We just want to make sure people feel comfortable."
Do you realize how messed up that is? That this legislation is aimed at increasing the comfort of "people"?
Because apparently only cis people are people. I'm writing that again: This asshole is implying that transgender people are not human.
This legislation will undeniably make many people very, very, uncomfortable.
It will probably increase the likelihood of transgender teenagers in Utah (and maybe other states as well) killing themselves.
And even if it doesn't, the resulting bullying and harassment certainly will.
(If you are a queer youth considering suicide, call the Trevor Foundation, 866-488-7386, for support.)
Anyway. I wrote "Asshole" in reference to this politician a couple sentences ago. I apologize; that is a huge insult to the human body and digestive system.

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