Illinois Has Its Own Transphobic 'Bathroom Bill' Moving Through The Statehouse

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 28, 2016 6:04PM

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We think Illinois could use more gender neutral bathrooms, actually. Via Shutterstock.

Illinois has its own version of a controversial bill passed in North Carolina last week that bans trans people from using the bathroom corresponding to the gender with which they identify.

The bill, filed in January by Rep. Thomas Morrison (R-Palatine), would force school boards to “designate each pupil restroom, changing room, or overnight facility accessible by multiple pupils simultaneously, whether located in a public school building or located in a facility utilized by the school for a school-sponsored activity, for the exclusive use of pupils of only one sex.”

“Reasonable accommodations” would be made for students using single-occupancy facilities, but only if they are emancipated minors or a parent or guardian submits a written request for an accommodation. Last week the bill, which has more than two dozen co-sponsors, was sent to the Human Services Committee. According to a January report in the Sun-Times, Morrison filed the legislation after Township High School District 211 was sued for refusing to provide a transgender student access to the girl’s locker room.

“This bill runs counter to the decision by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights in the District 211, which declared such segregation to be a violation of Title IX,” wrote Mary Dixon, Legislative Director for the Illinois ACLU in an email asking opponents to sign a petition against the legislation. “This means that if Illinois schools adopted this approach, they would risk losing all federal funding.”

Dixon also wrote that schools which “adopted sensitive and affirming policies for students who are transgender,” granting equal access to facilities, would have to reverse those decisions.

Lambda Legal, one of the nation's oldest organizations defending the rights of LGBT people, has also decried the bill. "HB 4474 is a discriminatory bill that would ban schools from allowing transgender students from using the facilities that correspond to their gender identity," wrote Christopher Clark, Counsel in the organization's Midwest Regional Office, in a January blog post. "The bill also encourages “bathroom policing” by providing a complaint process for other students or their parents who want to target and harass transgender students." The North Carolina bathroom bill is already being challenged by several advocacy groups and the ACLU. According to ABC, a lawsuit filed Monday reads:

"Lawmakers made no attempt to cloak their actions in a veneer of neutrality, instead openly and virulently attacking transgender people, who were falsely portrayed as predatory and dangerous to others.”

The Illinois ACLU says that it plans to be in Springfield to oppose the measure, but is unclear whether it will be called for a vote in Committee at this time.