Utah Legislature passes transgender bathroom ban
Utah lawmakers passed a bill Friday that would ban transgender people from using bathrooms in schools and government buildings that match their gender identities.
House Bill No. 257 entitledGender labels for privacy, anti-bullying and women’s opportunities“, also sets the state’s legal definition of “male” and “female” based on a person’s genitals and not their gender identity. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for approval.
This is the third year in a row that Utah lawmakers have passed legislation limiting the rights of the transgender community in the state.
The bill’s passage also comes less than seven years after similar legislation was enacted in North Carolina, HB 2, It sparked national outrage. While HB2 has sparked state boycotts before International companiesbig name performers and University sports leaguesthere hasn’t been much buzz around Utah’s bill other than advocates and members of the LGBTQ community who live in the state.
If enacted, the bill would be the 13th law in the country that limits the ability of transgender people to use public facilities in some capacity, according to the Movement Development Project, an LGBTQ research group that tracks the bills.
Supporters of the measure argued that the bill was necessary to prevent “Predators seek to harm womenFrom entering the bathrooms and changing facilities under the pretext that they are trans women.
“Let’s be clear, sexual assault knows no bounds. Keeping men out of women’s spaces is an appropriate and much-needed limit in Utah and across America,” Utah Rep. Kira Birkeland, the bill’s lead sponsor, said Thursday. “No one blames the transgender community for crimes against women.”
Conversely, critics have condemned the bill for targeting the state’s transgender community.
Kelly Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, called the legislation “an invasion of our basic freedoms.”
“No student should be denied access to the bathroom that matches their identity,” she said in a statement Friday. “No one should fear harassment in the most private of places. Period.”
It is unclear whether Republican Gov. Spencer Cox will sign the bill into law. Cox’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment and the governor has not commented publicly on the bill.
In 2022, Cox vetoed legislation aimed at limiting the ability of transgender students to compete on girls’ sports teams at school. (Later, Utah legislators Transgression Their Republican governor vetoed the bill and the bill became law.) But Cox last year Occurred Enforce a ban on confirming gender-based care for minors into law during the first few weeks of the legislative session.
Equality Utah, an LGBT advocacy group, said in a Statement on X On Friday that she had successfully fought to include language in the text of HB 257 that would prevent criminal action against minors who break the law and that she would continue to advocate for transgender youth.
The bill’s original text effectively prohibited transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity at any facility in the state that receives public funding, including hospitals and airports. But the state Senate amended the language to limit the scope of the ban to public schools and government-owned facilities, which lawmakers in the state House overwhelmingly approved.
“It is very clear that right now there are going to be sustained and ongoing political attacks on transgender and non-binary people in Utah,” said Aaron Welcher, spokesman for the ACLU of Utah. “It’s really unfortunate for all the reasons we fight for people’s rights and civil liberties, but it’s also really unfortunate because many of these people who have been affected over the last three years are young people.”
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This article was originally published on NBCNews.com