Lawmakers Advance Transgender School Bathroom Bill

A new law is looking to ban transgender students from using school bathrooms and related facilities that don't align with their birth gender.

By Sharon Norbury | Published

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school bathrooms

As academics continue to fall alluding to a massive education crisis in America, much of the attention on public schools has been focused on gender identity and sexual orientation inside schools. With Florida bringing transgender talk to the forefront of media with its recent passage of controversial bills blocking educators from discussing any type of gender identity with students, anti-LGBTQ bills soared last year, with more than 250 new ones being filed. Now, transgender sports aren’t the only issue on the table, as one state takes aim at transgender’s use of school bathrooms.

Hb 322, dubbed the Bathroom Bill in Alabama, was introduced to The Cotton State by Representative Scott Stadthagen, a republican from Hartselle, Alabama. The legislation first passed the House in late February after a heated debate that ended in a 74 to 24 vote. Yesterday, the legislation was passed through the Senate Government Affairs Committee on a 9 to 1 vote. The school bathroom bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote. With partisan control heavily weighted on Republicans, it is likely the bill will get the Senate’s approval.

school bathrooms

According to the transgender school bathroom bill’s text, school students would be mandated to only have access to bathrooms and other related facilities like school showers and changing rooms that align with their gender at birth. The bill’s author says that the piece of legislation was only created for safety measures. He also claims that the bill takes no aim at targeting transgenders. 

During the Committee debate yesterday,  Stadthagen once again defended the need for the school bathroom bill. According to the legislature, the bill was authored to address concerns that some students’ parents had brought to his attention. Stadthagen cited multiple examples of school assaults that happened inside school bathrooms both in Madison County in 2010, and Prattville High School in 2018. 

Oftentimes when the discussions of transgender access in school bathrooms–or any public restrooms–arise, the argument against transgender comes from an issue of safety. Opponents feel that openly giving transgender access to whatever restroom they choose opens the door for more predators to do so. Similarly, opposers say it makes others uncomfortable to be in a private place with members that biologically were born of the opposite sex. Moreso, the Republicans who voted the legislation through yesterday feel that it is needed to keep females in schools safe.

school bathrooms

But transgender advocates see things much differently. They feel the legislation does just the opposite of its intent, and only further puts a target on the already heavily barraged transgender students inside schools. Plenty of reports state that the safety net argued by republicans is a myth. They argue that a gender sign on a publicly accessible wall does not stop predators–whether transgender or not–from entering school bathrooms if they please. Further backing up their claims, Democrats against the bill in Alabama pointed out that the school bathroom assaults Stadthagen continuously brings up didn’t even involve transgenders.

Regardless of opposing sides’ beliefs, the school bathroom bill is now prepared for discussion and a vote within Alabama’s full Senate. If it succeeds, the bill will head to the desk of Republican Governor Kay Ivey. Ivey would be likely to sign the bill into law, as she has already previously signed similar transgender legislation barring them from participating in sports that don’t align with their birth sex.