By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers advanced legislation Wednesday that would ban transgender students from using school bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
The House Education Policy Committee approved the bill that mandates K-12 schools statewide require students to use multiperson facilities that match the sex on their original birth certificate. The bill now moves to the full House of Representatives, where more than 45 Republicans in the 105-member House have signed on as co-sponsors.
The bill would not allow schools to address matters with transgender students on a case-by-case basis.
“I am trying to prevent any males who were born males from going into female bathrooms,” Republican Rep. Scott Stadthagen of Hartselle told the committee. “It’s a safety issue. I for one, as a father, do not want a male, who is born male, in my daughter’s bathroom.”
Stadthagen maintained that the bill is about safety and preventing sexual predators from being able to enter school bathrooms. But opponents said the proposal blatantly discriminates against transgender youth and puts them at risk, under the guise of safety.
“This is basically a safety privilege transfer. If someone in K-12 is going to identify as gender-expansive, this bill is putting them in harm’s way of being attacked and bullied, as well as sexual assault,” said Carmarion D. Anderson, the director for Human Rights Campaign Alabama.
“We should take a really deep look at what the sponsor’s intent of this bill is and why he’s putting in forward, and in my personal opinion, it’s for political scores so he can climb the charts here at the Statehouse,” said Anderson, who is a transgender woman.
Stadthagen, in urging committee support for the bill, described an assault that happened in a bathroom. But when pressed by a committee member if the attacker was transgender, he responded that, “I’m not saying anything about trans in my bill.”
Similar policies in other states have resulted in litigation. The U.S. Supreme Court last year rejected a Virginia school board’s appeal to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban, handing a victory to transgender rights groups and a former high school student who fought in court for six years to overturn the ban. The full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments later this month in the case of a transgender student in Florida who was blocked from using the boys bathroom.
Republicans on a South Dakota Senate committee last week rejected a similar bill that would have banned transgender students from using school restrooms that match their gender identity.
The Alabama bill is the second targeting LGBTQ youths to advance in legislative committee this year. A Senate committee last week advanced a bill that would outlaw the use of puberty-blockers, hormonal treatments and surgery to assist transgender youth 18 and younger in their gender transition.
Last year, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a bill to block transgender girls from playing on female sports teams at public schools.