11 states have followed NC’s lead and have sued the federal government over its interpretation bathroom access for transgender students. States are responding to a joint letter distributed by the Obama administration in May that them to allow students to use the restroom that is “consistent with their gender identity” in compliance with Title IX. Legislators from across the country are forwarding responding with their own “bathroom bills” that would enforce gender-specific restrooms in order to protect student privacy.
Nine states — Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington— saw bills introduced that would compel students to use the restroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates, although few are likely to make it all the way to the floor. Of these states, Washington acted the most aggressively to protect single-sex restrooms restrictions, introducing three separate bills (SB 6548, SR 1752, and HB 2782) aimed at segregating school bathrooms by gender.
Another three bills are passing through state state chambers. Bills in South Dakota and Tennessee to restrict restrooms by biological gender at birth will likely see passage into law, with floor forecasts of 99.0 percent and 95.6 percent respectively, according to FiscalNote analysis. Oklahoma’s legislature passed a resolution that challenges Obama’s “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students.”
Creative restrictions span from religion to DNA testing
Some states have framed the restroom debate in a wider discussion on religious exemptions. Mississippi recently enacted the sweeping “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.” Although primarily intended to allow religious organizations or business owners to opt out of providing wedding services, the bill will also allow school administrators to enforce sex-specific access to “intimate facilities and settings at school.” While other states have taken steps to govern gender in the restroom. HB 4474 of Illinois defines gender for restroom restrictions based on one’s chromosomes. Bill sponsor Thomas Morrison (R) suggested that DNA tests be incorporated into students’ physical exams.