Proposal for sex-specific changing rooms at county rec centers draws supporters, opponents
Dec 5, 2023, 6:00 PM
(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County Council has proposed a new ordinance to require sex-specific changing rooms at all Salt Lake County recreation centers. The council says the ordinance is needed because of a loophole that exists in the current county nondiscrimination policy.
The new ordinance reinforces existing privacy and safety protocols in women’s locker rooms at all Salt Lake County recreation centers. According to the County Council, the move is in response to rising community concerns about existing locker room usage policies.
The wording of the ordinance begins by reasserting that discrimination against protected classes such as age, sex and gender identity in Salt Lake County government services is prohibited. But the ordinance goes on to say that the county’s non-discrimination policy can’t be used to keep Salt Lake County government “from adopting reasonable rules and policies that designate sex-specific facilities.”
The ordinance introduced Tuesday would also require a third, gender-neutral dressing option, which can be used by anybody, at Salt Lake County recreation centers.
Strong public reactions to Salt Lake County ordinance
Dozens of people packed into a Salt Lake County Council meeting room on Tuesday to talk about the matter. One council member, Laurie Stringham, said now is not the time to deal with this issue.
“This is an issue for the courts and state Legislature,” Stringham said. “It’s not one ready for action at this time by this county . . . we can’t afford it.”
Councilman David Alvord’s concern was about ensuring privacy for all residents.
“There could be no recourse of a cis-male went into the women’s locker room,” said Alvord. “A fully heterosexual cis-male.”
Should adult men be allowed to use the women’s locker rooms. This is happening in #SaltLakeCounty. Have #utah parents been warned before their daughters use the women’s locker rooms? #utpol @SLCoMayor @SLCountyGOP @UtahGOP @SLCountyDems @UtahDemocrats @SLCOParksandRec pic.twitter.com/1magi95tRW
— Utah Gay-Straight Coalition (@UtahGSC) July 18, 2023
The ordinance was tabled. But several council members discussed changing it to a possible policy change, instead of a full ordinance.