A bathroom bill drafted by Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin is causing controversy this week, as it would essentially bar transgender students from using the restrooms of the gender with which they identify, Madison TV station WKOW reports.
Rep. Jesse Kremer told the station that the idea for his bill came to him after a school in his district provided a faculty restrooom to a transgender student who asked to use the men's bathroom. Kremer said the bill uses that decision as a model for all schools, explaining that it would somehow prevent lawsuits against districts with their own, separate policies.
"So what this bill does is it creates a policy for the whole state that would basically designate if it's a men's room, only males are allowed to use that room, if it's a female room, only females," Kremer told WKOW. "And the school district would have to have reasonable accommodations."
If enacted, the measure would require all students to use restrooms and changing rooms in public schools based on the gender they were assigned at birth. The Wisconsin legislation mirrors this year's earlier unsuccessful efforts in Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, and Texas to restrict transgender students' access to school facilties, some impractically demanding that everyone undergo a chromosomal test to "confirm" which bathroom they should use. Similar legislation in Florida targeting transgender members of the public was defeated in April.
However, if passed, some educators believe Wisconsin's proposed legislation could conflict with federal Title IX requirements.
"That is a concern when a bill such as this is being proposed because it does put a school district in a very awkward situation, because we are required to follow both state and federal law," Baraboo District Administrator Lori Mueller told WKOW.
As The Advocate reported, bathroom usage became an issue for one transgender student in Missouri earlier this month, when nearly 150 of her high school classmates staged a walk-out to protest her desire to use the women's restroom.
GSAFE, an LGBT student advocacy group, called the Wisconsin bill "mean-spirited" and said it would make transgender students less safe.
"In the nearly 60 Wisconsin school districts that follow best practices, no incidents have been reported of a nontransgender student being harassed," Brian Juchems, GSAFE director of education and policy, told WKOW. "All this bill does is single out transgender and intersex students for increased scrutiny and harassment, directly jeopardizing their safety."
Watch WKOW's report on the Wisconsin bathroom bill below.