RICHMOND – A state lawmaker and his supporters Thursday defended legislation telling transgender individuals which bathroom they must use – a proposal that Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vowed to veto.
House Bill 1612, proposed by Del. Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, would require people in public schools and government buildings to use the restroom for the sex shown on their original birth certificate.
The bill also would require the principal of a public school to notify the parent or guardian if a child requests to be identified by the name, pronoun or treatment “inconsistent with the child’s sex.”
Marshall discussed the proposal, known as the Physical Privacy Act, at a news conference with members of the Virginia First Foundation, a citizens group that supports “limited Constitutional government supported by a strong Judeo-Christian, Conservative culture.”
“This bill ensures that parents are included when a student requests accommodations when they are gender uncertain,” Virginia First Foundation board member Travis Witt said.
He said HB 1612 would be a way to respect everyone while preserving the privacy and safety of others. “It’s time to put our children’s interest ahead of special interests.”
The issue has generated controversy in recent years. The Obama administration has told public schools to allow transgender students – who are born as one sex but identify as the other – to use the bathroom of their choice. North Carolina has faced boycotts after passing a law similar to HB 1612.
LGBT advocates say that for fairness and safety, transgender people should be allowed to use the restroom of the sex with which they identify. Opponents fear that such policies would allow men to enter the women’s restroom and could lead to sexual assaults.
At the news conference, Mary McCallister of the Liberty Counsel said the Obama administration was trying to redefine sex to include sexual orientation, sexual identity and gender expression.
Two women, Jeannie Lowder and Terry Beatley, spoke in support of Marshall’s bill.
“We can look at other options, we can work together to make this happen, but we do not need to do this at the expense of our children and those who have experienced sexual trauma,” Lowder said.
Beatley compared the movement to allow transgender individuals to use public restrooms to efforts to legalize abortion in the 1960s. She said women were lied to during the movement, which led to “a culture of 60 million dead babies.”
“This is about being fair to other people. Aren’t we tired of being such a divisive country?” Beatley said.
After the press conference, the organizers opened the floor to questions.
“Where would you like me to go to the bathroom?” Theodore Kahn, a transgender man, asked.
“Not here,” Marshall said above the uproar of the other speakers.
Kahn is no stranger to people questioning which bathroom he should use. He said it didn’t matter which bathroom he tried to use – he was still hassled.
“I’m not a thing. I’m a person, and I deserve to pee in peace,” Kahn said.
Marshall said he filed the bill because his constituents are concerned about privacy in public restrooms. “I have introduced HB 1612 to simply preserve the status quo,” he said.
Marshall’s bill faces opposition from LGBT advocates and Democratic leaders. Gov. Terry McAuliffe addressed the bill in his State of the Commonwealth speech on Wednesday night.
He said North Carolina’s law, called HB 2, has cost that state millions in economic activity and thousands of jobs.
“North Carolina remains mired in a divisive and counterproductive battle over laws its legislature passed that target the rights of LGBT citizens. As we have seen in that state and others, attacks on equality and women’s health care rights don’t just embarrass the states that engage in them – they kill jobs,” McAuliffe said.
“I want to make it very clear that I will veto any legislation that discriminates against LGBT Virginians or undermines the constitutional health care rights of Virginia women.”