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Monday, February 20, 2017

Missouri 'Bathroom Bill' Will Get a Hearing Tomorrow

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2017 at 6:46 AM

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Remember that "bathroom bill" requiring people in North Carolina to use the restroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate? There's a version proposed in Missouri — and it gets a hearing tomorrow in a state Senate committee.

SB 98, introduced by Senator Ed Emery (R-Lamar), would require that any public school bathrooms or locker rooms accessible to multiple students at the same time be limited to those of "the same biological sex" — defined in the bill as the one "identified at birth by a person's anatomy and indicated on their birth certificate."

In that definition, it echoes the North Carolina bill, although the North Carolina bill applied not just to schools but all government buildings.

Upon passage, the North Carolina bill led to a firestorm in the state. PayPal canceled a proposed expansion locally, as did Deutsche Bank, and events including the NBA All-Star Game pulled out. The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce said that the PayPal deal alone cost Mecklenburg County $285 million. Then the Department of Justice sued the state, saying the new state law was a violation of the Violence Against Women Act and discriminated against transgender residents.

Closer to home, in rural Marionville, Missouri, controversy erupted in 2015 over a transgender student who had been granted permission to use the female locker room, even though the student was originally raised as a male. The other girls walked out rather than be forced to share their accommodations.

A new policy was put in place, but that too stirred complaints. "Under the new Marionville policy, students who participate in physical education classes requiring a locker room or shower are expected to use facilities designated for their biological gender," the Post-Dispatch reported. "They can also take an alternative PE class that doesn’t require changing clothes or showering." The ACLU called the policy "discriminatory," the paper reported.

Emery's bill says,
A student who asserts to school officials that his or her gender is different from his or her biological sex may be provided with alternative restroom, locker room, or shower room accommodations, provided that a parent or legal guardian of a minor child who makes such assertion shall provide written consent to use of such alternative accommodations.

Such accommodations shall not include the use of student restrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms designated for use by students of the opposite biological sex. Acceptable accommodations may include but are not limited to access to single-stall restrooms, unisex restrooms, or controlled use of faculty restrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms.

The complete text of the Missouri bill is online. As of press time, it was set to be heard in the Senate Education committee on February 21.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story contained an incorrect bill number. The bathroom bill is SB 98. We apologize for any confusion.

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