Insidious Illinois bathroom bill likely dead

About 70 percent of transgender people have been harassed in public restrooms, according to a 2013 survey by The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. However, there are no confirmed reports of transgender people assaulting any person in a public restroom.

By this time, most people have heard of North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom bill” blocking transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity. The initiative, called House Bill 2 or HB2, was introduced in March 2016 as a response to a non-discrimination ordinance passed in Charlotte just a month earlier, which was essentially the exact opposite of the bill. The Charlotte bill has since been repealed.

I was already aware of other states following in North Carolina’s footsteps over the past year with their own bathroom bills, but it was only while researching the topic for a presentation that I learned of Illinois House Bill 664.

The bill would require school boards to keep multi-user restrooms, changing rooms and overnight facilities on the basis of chromosomes and assigned sex at birth.

Transgender students would have to use the restroom of their assigned gender and would only be allowed accommodations with parental permission; with that permission, those students would be able to use bathrooms separate from other students.

After passing through the Rules Committee, the Human Services Committee and the Facilities Subcommittee, House Bill 664 was re-referred to the Rules Committee without ever having a hearing.

Craig Curtis and Ryan Reed, professors in Bradley’s Political Science Department, both agreed that a re-referral means the bill is probably dead.

“That’s the fate of most bills,” Reed said. “They never get voted on. They die in a committee.”

According to Curtis, the bill probably was not acceptable to the House leadership.

I believe the numbers demonstrate that transgender people, including students of all ages, are the ones who need protecting, not the other way around. Bathroom bills discriminate against a marginalized group without any factual basis.

Somehow the introduction of the bill in late January slipped past the radars of myself and all of my friends. I couldn’t believe I had not heard anything about it. As a transgender woman, it can be difficult to keep track of every proposed restriction to my livelihood.

The Supreme Court recently declined to rule on the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender student from Gloucester, Virginia. The case could have been a turning point for transgender rights but has now been sent to a lower court where Grimm will not receive a ruling until after he graduates this spring.

Last weekend, Bradley University’s LGBTQ+ ally organization, Common Ground, held an event called Pride Prom on the third floor of the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center. As part of the event, both bathrooms at the event had their gendered signs covered with papers that read, “This is a bathroom. We don’t care who uses it.”

“Especially at an event like Pride Prom whose express purpose is to make people happy and proud and safe in who they are, having gender neutral bathrooms was just something we didn’t even have to think about,” Gabrielle Hogan, president of Common Ground, said.

According to Hogan, Pride Prom concluded without a single incident in either restroom.

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