K-12 bathroom bill up for debate in Alabama Legislature

Gender neutral bathrooms include signage with a man and woman on it. (Source: WECT)
Gender neutral bathrooms include signage with a man and woman on it. (Source: WECT)
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 7:24 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A bill that would require Alabama K-12 public school students to use the bathroom based on the gender on their birth certificates has received a lot of support in the House, but members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies accuse this of being discrimination from conservative leaders.

The 47 co-sponsors of this bill, including House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, cite safety as the number one reason for this legislation.

Rep. Scott Stadthagen, sponsor of HB322, gave an example of a 14-year-old girl he says was raped by a male in a girl’s bathroom.

Stadthagen says there are seven cases similar to this one in Morgan County alone.

“I started asking around the state, and they’re literally spread out throughout the entire state,” said Stagthagen.

Safety is the main argument for this bill that would require k-12 public school students to use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate.

“Safety of our female students in the bathrooms,” said Stadthagen. “That should be the most private place a student should go, and for males to consider themselves as females and to be allowed in a female bathroom is unacceptable.”

“As the national leading LGBTQ+ equality organization, we don’t get this across our desk,” said Camarion Anderson-Harvey, the Alabama director for Human Rights Campaign.

Instead, she suggests leaders really take a look at the identity of the students involved.

“Perhaps what they would not share is that that incident probably happened to a cis-identified female in the hands of a cis-identified male,” said Anderson-Harvey.

Democratic Rep. Neil Rafferty says there is a deeper issue as well.

“Making sure that our kids are informed about what consent is, what bodily autonomy is, that you have the right to say no,” said Rafferty.

The bill does not offer an alternative solution for transgender youth to use the restroom they prefer.

“The only other option we have is if there is medical needs, they can go in, or if custodial and so forth like that,” said Stadthagen.

“There are school districts and school administrators that when it’s brought to their attention that the student is gender-expansive or considered a trans-youth, they go over and beyond to accommodate that student in their comfort level,” said Anderson-Harvey.

The bill will be read in the House Education Policy committee tomorrow afternoon where the sponsors seem confident it will receive a favorable report.

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