Wisconsin Lawmakers Propose Bill to Restrict Transgender Students' Use of School Bathrooms
Two Wisconsin lawmakers are proposing a bill that would forbid transgender students from using school bathrooms or locker rooms assigned to the gender with which they identify.
State Representative Jesse Kremer and State Senator Steve Nass are gearing up to present the bill to the Wisconsin legislature. “This bill reinforces the societal norm in our schools that students born biologically male must not be allowed to enter facilities designed for biological females and vice versa,” Kremer wrote in a Tuesday memo to lawmakers, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
“[It] creates a policy for the whole state that would basically designate if it’s a men’s room, only males are allowed to use that room, if it’s a female room, only females,” Kremer told WKOW. “And the school district would have to have reasonable accommodations.”
The proposed bill may clash with Title IX, a federal policy protecting students from gender discrimination.
Sheri Swokowski, a 65-year-old transgender woman and LGBT advocate, tells the Journal that anxiety about transgender students using communal spaces comes from a “lack of education and awareness of what transgender means.”
“When you have a transgender female going into and using female restrooms and locker rooms – there may be male anatomy, but frankly they are female.”
However, the bill defines gender as “the physical condition of being male or female, as determined by an individual’s chromosomes and identified at birth by that anatomy.”
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The bill would allow transgender students to request special accommodations, but the Department of Justice sided in June with a transgender student from Virginia who said his school’s bathroom policies, which required him to use an alternative bathroom, violated his rights. The court agreed that the student should be allowed to use the bathroom assigned to the gender he identified with as a matter of mental health.
Further, the Wisconsin bill requires school districts to investigate if parents complain that their children’s privacy is being violated by a transgender student using the same bathroom. If the parents aren’t satisfied with the district’s findings and proposed solution, they may file a lawsuit. A lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards finds this problematic.
“We have concerns about districts being sued and the expense of defending those kinds of things and what the range of remedies are,” Dan Rossmiller told the Journal.
Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada and Texas have also made unsuccessful efforts this year to restrict transgender students’ access to communal school facilities.