Jan 26, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Utah Legislature OKs bill restricting transgender people's access to bathrooms

Photo by: Jon G. Fuller/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A Utah bill that would ban transgender people's access to public restrooms and locker rooms is poised to be signed into law.

The latest: H.B. 257 received final passage in the Utah House on Friday in a 58-16 vote largely along party lines. It will now head to the governor's desk for his signature.

Details: The restrictions for transgender people would also apply to sex-segregated locker rooms and showers in public facilities and K-12 schools unless their gender identity matches their birth certificate.

  • The bill would also direct government entities to include a certain number of single-occupant restrooms and locker rooms in new buildings.

The quick-moving bill, co-sponsored by state Rep. Kera Birkeland (R-Morgan) and state Sen. Dan McCay (R-Riverton), was first made public about two weeks ago.

  • As state lawmakers weighed potential constitutional challenges, the bill went through several iterations before passing in both chambers.

Of note: A spokesperson for Cox would not confirm on Friday if he planned to sign the bill.

The big picture: It's the latest measure from the Republican-controlled state Legislature that would further restrict the rights of transgender Utahns by prohibiting them from entering certain public facilities.

What they're saying: Utah Senate President Stuart Adams on Friday told reporters the bill "has very little to do with the trans community," maintaining the intent was to protect women.

  • Utah Democrats and LGBTQ+ advocates have said the bill wrongfully targets transgender Utahns.
  • "We still hold the position that transgender Americans have the freedom and liberty to access facilities within public spaces," according to a statement from the LGBTQ+ civil rights group Equality Utah. "We are sorry for the fear and distress that many within the community are experiencing as they read these bills."
  • "We will continue meeting with lawmakers throughout the session to advocate on their behalf."

Catch up quick: Utah's Republican Gov. Spencer Cox in 2022 vetoed a bill that aimed to ban transgender girls from competing in school sports that align with their gender identity.

  • His veto was quickly overridden by the state Legislature.
  • The following year, Cox signed an even more restrictive bill into law that prohibited gender-affirming care for most transgender youth.

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