Two new bills introduced during the Kansas legislation session aim to ban transgender students from using restrooms that match their gender, and to pay other students $2,500 if they encounter someone transgender in their school’s restroom.
The Student Physical Privacy Act which is supported by complementary bills, SB 513 and HB 2737 requires students of all public schools and universities to use the restroom corresponding to their assigned-at-birth sex, and not the gender they identify with.
The bills claim that the goal is to ‘maintain order and dignity in restrooms, locker rooms, showers and other facilities where students may be in various states of undress in the presence of other students.’
Republican Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook who is in favor of the bill said: ‘Parents have reached out afraid for their children’s safety and they do not want attention for fear of being called a bigot, this legislation ensures accommodations, while still protecting everyone’s privacy rights.’
If the bills were accepted, every time a student sees someone ‘of the opposite sex’ in the restroom, he or she could sue the school for $2,500, as well as additional compensations for any ‘psychological, emotional and physical harm suffered as a result.’
‘Allowing students to use restrooms, locker rooms and showers that are reserved for students of a different sex will create potential embarrassment, shame, and psychological injury to students,’ the bills read.
Speaking in an interview with WIBW-TV, student Taylor Stebbins who has recently come to terms with being transgender feels otherwise about the bill:
“I already have to deal with so much, and my own self, attacking my own self, on a daily basis, and I don’t need that extra violence on top of me.
‘And if legislators want to protect somebody, it’s trans students that they need to protect.’
Women’s Studies Assistant Professor Dr. Harlan Weaver affirms the bill would endanger transgender students:
‘They become more vulnerable to harassment, bullying, and violence because they have to go to different restrooms and have to constantly out themselves.
‘Bills like this don’t protect people, they kill people.’
Under the bills, transgender students could also request for alternative facilities at school, such as single-stall bathrooms, unisex bathrooms, or faculty bathrooms, locker rooms or shower rooms.
However, this kind of arrangement may backfire and cause transgender students to be singled out and become even more prone to being bullied.
Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, said the bills would be ‘isolating kids, and it’s not going to end well.’
‘It’s outing them. It’s putting a target on their backs,’ Witt explained.
If such bills were to be accepted, would schools become hesitant in accepting transgender students because of the possible ‘risk’ of payouts in the future?