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Equity & Diversity

Utah Transgender Students’ Bathroom Access Would Be Limited Under Bill

By Evie Blad — February 03, 2014 1 min read

A Utah state representative has filed a bill that would limit transgender students to using restrooms in the state’s public schools that correspond with the sex they were born with, which may not match their self-identified gender.

Bathrooms have been a big deal lately after California enacted a law that requires schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their identified gender, even if that gender doesn’t match the sex listed on their educational records. And Maine’s high court last week ruled a school there violated a state nondiscrimination law when it required a 5th grade transgender student to use a staff bathroom instead of allowing her to use a girls’ bathroom.

The exact language in Utah Rep. Michael S. Kennedy’s bill says it would prohibit “a student from using a gender-segregated public school bathroom that does not correspond to the student’s phenotype.” Phenotype is a biological term that refers to observable traits or expressions of genes. Under the bill, a students would confirm their genders through what is designated on their birth certificates or by providing “a signed, written document from a physician that ... based on a physical examination of the individual’s genitalia, designates the individual phenotypically as either male or female.”

In an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, Kennedy said the California law motivated him to draft his proposal. He said he wasn’t aware of any problems related to the issue in the state’s public schools. His bill would allow schools to provide “reasonable accommodation” to students, such as the use of a single-stall staff bathroom.

But Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah, told the paper that the proposal is “at least misguided and at worst cruel.”

She called the requirement for parents to provide proof of sex “an invasion of privacy.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.