Bathroom Bill Debated at Legislature

(Tuesday, April 12th) Early on Tuesday morning in a packed hearing room, lawmakers discussed and debated Representative Glenn Gruenhagen’s (R – Glencoe) bathroom bill.  This controversial bill seeks to restrict transgender bathroom use to one’s biological sex at birth, applying to not only bathrooms, but locker rooms and changing rooms as well.

As Alpha New reported, current Minnesota law does not specify that transgender individuals must be allowed to use restrooms, etc., based on the gender of which they identify.  The Minnesota Human Rights Act does list “sexual identity” as a protected class that cannot be discriminated against; this includes they cannot be discriminated against in the area of “public accommodation” (any place the public is allowed to be).  Some school districts, cities and private businesses have policies allowing transgender people to use whatever (restroom/locker room, etc.) facility corresponds with the gender with which they identify.

Several people testified at the debate, including parents, lawmakers, and transgender teenagers.  At the press conference introduction to this bill, several parents testified that allowing transgender use of bathrooms opposite of their birth gender opens the door for abuse by sexual predators.  However, transgender individuals opposing this bill vehemently explain they are simply trying to use the bathroom in which they feel most comfortable.

Both of these viewpoints came to a head at the committee meeting Tuesday.  The debate was heated and passionate, yet largely remained civil. Representative Barb Yarusso (D – Shoreview), who is the parent of a transgender child, testified that this bill, “tells transgendered people there is no place for you in society.”  Representative Gruenhagen, however, states, “The overwhelming majority of Minnesotan’s agree that adults and children have a right to privacy from members of the opposite sex when using a public restroom, shower or locker room. This is a well-established tenet of our society” going on to say, “Biological sex, based on one’s anatomy and DNA, is the only objective way to insure this right of privacy to everyone, regardless of sexual preference or identity.”

The Pioneer Press states that this issue “appears to be dead for the year” going on to explain, “The House committee to which the bill is assigned held an informational hearing about it Tuesday, but it did not take a vote and is not planning on meeting again before the 2016 legislative session ends in May.” However, in the unlikely case that the House did pass this legislation, it would likely face its ultimate demise in the Democrat-controlled Senate.  Similarly, in the even more unlikely case that both the House and Senate pass this legislation, Governor Mark Dayton swore to veto the bill.  As Alpha News previously reported, Governor Dayton expressed his dismay  at North Carolina’s recent transgender legislation, going as far as banning “nonessential travel” to the state.

Subscribe to Alpha News as we continue to track this issue and several others throughout the remaining weeks of the 2016 legislative session.