UTAH

Transgender bathroom bill clears Utah Senate committee hearing

Jan 22, 2024, 5:41 PM | Updated: Jan 23, 2024, 10:07 am

The State Auditor has found just five viable complaints, out of thousands, related to the state’s...

The State Auditor has found just five viable complaints, out of thousands, related to the state’s new “bathroom bill.” (Stock)

(Stock)

SALT LAKE CITY:  A Utah Senate committee has passed a bill that will determine who can use men’s or women’s bathrooms.

The bill, HB257, would require everyone to use the bathroom with the gender that matches their birth certificate.

Lots of public comment on HB257

About eight people spoke in support of the bill on Monday afternoon.

“This bill tries to set a standard that women of this state can perhaps learn to trust. I believe that if you want to fully enjoy the rights and privileges of being a woman there should be a history of sincere, demonstrable commitment to that end.”

But a long line of about three dozen people spoke in opposition. And most of them continued to say the same thing. 

“This bill was drafted on hearsay, to solve issues that I remain unconvinced are actually issues. It unfortunately doesn’t make anyone safer, but instead makes it more dangerous to be a gender nonconforming person in public.”

Others raised concerns that this bill would open the state up for possible lawsuits.

The sponsor and the opposition

The beginning and end of this bill, said the bill sponsor, Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, is about privacy and everyone’s right to privacy. 

“I think you saw a balance of people who really are concerned about their family or themselves, and from people who are also concerned about their feelings and themselves,” said Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, a sponsor of the bill.

“How do you meet and balance that out as a whole? That’s the challenge.”

Birkeland, also told  KSL NewsRadio after the meeting that if people would just wait a few years for more single-use bathrooms to be built, those concerns would go away.

Opponents found something good in bill

Equality Utah opposes HB257. But Marina Lowe with the group said it contains some good, even great qualities.

“There are parts of the bill we had made clear, and we did again today in committee, that we think are great.,” Lowe said. “the parts that codify Title Nine are, I think, really important for the girls and women in our state. The parts that are pushing our state in public spaces to be more accommodating of having single stalls, I think are beneficial for everybody.”

But their concern remains with transgender Utahns who fear an awkward confrontation with someone in a bathroom or other public spaces.

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Transgender bathroom bill clears Utah Senate committee hearing