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2017-Vermont: Introduction of
a gender-neutral washroom bill:

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Great Seal of Vermont

The Great Seal of Vermont

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House Bill 333 is introduced to cover single-stall washrooms:

On 2017-FEB-21, some Vermont legislators introduced a bill in the Vermont House to cover single-stall washrooms. The bill would require such facilities to be open for use by either males or females if the building in which it is located is open to the public.

The bill has two main sponsors: Rep. Selene Colburn of the progressive party, and Rep. William J. Lippert, a Democrat. It has 35 additional sponsors in the House, all Democrats! The House currently has 83 Democrats, 53 Republicans, 7 Progressives, and 7 Independents, so the bill has a good chance to be passed eventually .

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs. 1

The bill's text says:

"This bill proposes to require that any single-user toilet in any public building or place of public accommodation be identified as gender-free."

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California passed a similar law during 2016.

If HB 333 becomes law, it would ban all types of gender-specific, single occupancy public washrooms in Vermont's schools, retail outlets, and municipal, county or state government buildings. Facilities designed to be used my multiple people are not affected by this bill and would remain gender-specific.

The essence of a single-user/single stall washroom facility is that it is normally used by one one person at a time, unless it is voluntarily used, perhaps by a male-female couple, or a parent with a child of the opposite gender. They are essentially identical to a bathroom in a house or apartment.

One wonders who would care if the previous user were male or female? They are typically long-gone from the facility. Yet the appearance of the words "gender" and "washroom" in the text of the bill has apparently scared off all Republican representatives from co-sponsoring the bill.

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2017-APR-11: HB 333 received a committee hearing:

During the hearing:

  • Brenda Churchill, who identifies as transgender, said:

    "Currently, when I am in need of a restroom, I often have single-use bathrooms already mapped out so that I don’t even have to worry about where to stop."

  • Jessica Kell of Burlington, VT has a transgender child aged 13. She testified:

    "If we go out for the day, generally our child will not use the bathroom if there's not a gender-neutral option. So if we leave the house for eight hours, our child will not drink, and they won't use the bathroom until we get home."

  • Andrea Sambrook of Hinesburg VT, also has a transgender child. She said that neutral bathroom signs are deeply meaningful [to all transgender individuals], especially to children and youth. She said that the signs':

    "... installation silently broadcasts the message, 'I see you, you exist, and you matter'."

  • Julio Thompson, director of the civil rights unit at the Attorney General's Office, said:

    "It's something that I think benefits everyone when you think about it, because everyone gets twice the chance of finding a vacant bathroom if it's just labeled 'bathroom'."

  • Rep. Selene Colburn, one of the bill's sponsors, said that she she had once worked on this issue on the campus at the University of Vermont. She found that the easiest method to allow universal access is to simply label a private bathroom without any reference to gender.

  • Josie Leavitt, interim executive director of the Pride Center of Vermont -- a pro-LGBT, pro-equality group -- said:

    "While ideally all bathrooms should be gender-neutral, this bill is an excellent first step." 2

Nobody tesified against the bill at the hearing.

Jay Diaz of the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said:

"This legislation represents Vermont at its best, being a welcoming place, seeking greater equality and pushing back against the terrifying national trend that we’re seeing against trans people."

As shown above on the state's Great Seal, the state motto is "Freedom & Unity."

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Justin Haskins, wrote about Bill 333 for the conservative news outlet The Blaze. His article was given a curious title:

"Vermont Dems pushing for extreme gender-neutral bathroom bill." 3

He said:

"Supporters of the bill say transforming gender-specific single-stall bathrooms into gender-neutral facilities would cost very little money and provide all of Vermont’s citizens and visitors with access to safe bathrooms." 3

NBC news covered the hearing:

  4

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Related essays on this web site that you might find interesting:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. The text of Bill 333: "An act relating to identification of gender-free restrooms in public buildings and places of public accommodation" can be downloaded at: https://legiscan.com/
  2. April McCullum , "Vt. considers gender-neutral, single-stall bathroom bill," Desmoines Register, 2017-APR-11, at: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/
  3. Justin Haskins, "Vermont Dems pushing for extreme gender-neutral bathroom bill," The Blaze, 2017-APR-15, at: http://www.theblaze.com/
  4. "Many speak out in support of Vermont's gender-free bathroom bill," NBC News, You Tube, 2017-APR-11, at: https://www.youtube.com/

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted on: 2017-APR-16
Author:
B.A. Robinson
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