The Iowa House of Representatives introduced a transgender bathroom bill on Wednesday (31 January).
House File 2164 rewrites portions of the Iowa Civil Rights Act. It allows schools and other public accommodations to limit access to facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms based on biological sex.
‘This section does not require an educational institution to allow access to toilet facilities, locker rooms, or living facilities designated for use by persons of one sex to a person of the other sex and does not allow the commission to pursue administrative or legal action against an educational institution that does not provide those rooms or facilities,’ the bill reads.
In 2007, legislators amended the state’s Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
However, this new amendment says that preventing access to certain facilities based on biological sex, while ignoring their gender identity, does not constitute as discrimination.
People also can’t pursue legal action against a school if they do not provide inclusive facilities.
Republicans want to ‘protect’ women and girls
Republicans sponsoring the bill argue it protects people, specifically women and girls.
‘What the bill just says is that schools and businesses are allowed to take action to protect women and girls by preserving access (to toilet facilities and locker rooms) based on biological sex,’ Sandy Salmon told the Des Moines Register.
Another Republican, Steven Holt, says he completely gets ‘people living their lives as they see fit’.
His issue stems from being a parent. ‘But as a parent, you tell me that I should be OK with my daughters being forced to use restroom facilities with someone that is biologically a male?’ he questioned. ‘I don’t accept that.’
Unsurprisingly, LGBTI groups and individuals don’t agree.
‘The gender identity protection in the Civil Rights Act has been included for more than a decade,’ said trans lawmaker Aime Wichtendahl.
‘Has there been a problem of people harassing women in the bathrooms since then? No. This is simply a tactic of the extreme right,’ she continued. ‘Who will use any excuse they can to harass and intimidate us out of public life.’
Others cited the common statistic that most perpetrators of sexual assault know their victims.
Bathroom bills have been a problem for the United States’ transgender community for several years now.
The first major one was North Carolina’s, which finally came to a head in October.
Texas came next. However, its bill did not move forward after the House took no action on it.