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States are Poles Apart on Transgender Issues

At least five other states have considered similar “bathroom bills” this session


States are Poles Apart on Transgender Issues

South Dakota would be the first state in the U.S. to approve a law requiring transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their sex at birth if the governor signs a bill passed Tuesday by the state Senate.

The Senate voted 20-15 to send the bill to Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who initially responded positively to the measure but said last week he’d need to study it more before making a decision.

At least five other states have considered similar “bathroom bills” this session, and scores of other measures are pending in legislatures around the U.S. Among them are variations on a proposal that exploded in Indiana last year, when controversy over a so-called religious freedom law became a flashpoint in the ongoing debate over religious belief and legal equality.

Supporters say South Dakota’s plan is a response to changes in the Obama administration’s interpretation of the federal Title IX anti-discrimination law related to education. Federal officials have said that barring students from restrooms that match their gender identity is prohibited under Title IX.

In related news, a new rule in Washington has citizens rallying at their state capital. About 350 people took over the steps in Olympia on Monday.

The new state rule, which took effect in December, allows transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms that match the gender they identify with. Many feel the rule also opens the door to sexual predators.

Others that are testing the new rule include a man who attempted to use a women’s locker room at a Seattle swimming pool and told employees he had the right to use the bathroom of his choice under state law.

Employees report that the man made no verbal or physical attempt to identify as a woman, yet he still cited the new rule that allows bathroom choice based on gender identification.

Employees asked the man to leave but declined to call the police.

Evans Pool (Photo courtesy: Laurel Mercury, City of Seattle Parks & Recreation Department)


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