Lawmakers in Virginia have proposed a new bill that would mandate all public school students use a bathroom and locker room in line with their “anatomical sex” rather than their chosen gender identity.
The bill, proposed by Republican Delegate Mark Cole, would levy a fine of $50 against anybody who knowingly violates the new rule which is intended to counter ongoing efforts to let transgender students use whatever bathroom they like. According to The Washington Post, Cole described the law as “common sense legislation designed to protect the privacy of children and adults,” while also protecting schools from lawsuits. He says the bill was inspired by parents who complained that their daughters were sharing a bathroom with a biologically male classmate.
According to the bill’s exact wording, those using a public restroom or a school locker room must use a gender-neutral restroom or else the one assigned to their anatomical sex, which is defined as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s anatomy.”
Some news reports have claimed the bill would require schools to engage in “genital checks” of students, but Cole points out that when contested a person’s birth sex could be proven via a birth certificate or their school registration records.
The bill is unlikely to pass in the near future. While Virginia’s legislature is Republican-controlled, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe could veto the measure.
Even if Cole’s bill passes, though, it’s not clear it would survive a court challenge. The Obama administration has argued that the federal Title IX law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in schools also applies to the transgendered, and requires letting them into the bathrooms of their choice. On the other hand, a federal judge ruled last fall that a transgender Virginia high schooler has no right to use an opposite-sex bathroom.
Unsurprisingly, advocates for the transgendered are unhappy with the bill.
“It is sad to see the number of bills introduced this session targeted at ensuring that schools and other governmental agencies can purposely discriminate against transgender adults and children in Virginia,” Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, told the Post.