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Bill defines gender for bathrooms

By Billy Hesterman - Daily Herald - | Jan 31, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, has introduced legislation that will ensure Utah’s students are using the bathroom that is assigned to their gender.

On Wednesday Kennedy told the Daily Herald that the bill, H.B. 87, is reactive legislation to a law that has been implemented in California which allows a transgendered individual enrolled in the state’s school system to choose for themselves which bathroom they should use and which gender of sports team they can play on. He said his legislation is set to prevent such things from happening in Utah.

“We are just trying to make sure people are comfortable,” Kennedy said.

The bill looks to define gender under state code. The legislation states gender means the male or female phenotype designated by an individual’s birth certificate. If it is not designated on the certificate then the student would need to have a signed document from a physician indicating their gender. The student then would only be allowed to use the bathroom that is the same as their medically designated gender.

The bill specifically states that gender does not mean an individual’s own opinion on their gender.

Kennedy’s bill does provide accommodations for a transgendered student who may be in question of what their gender is. In that case, the student would be able to ask the school to provide a special accommodation for them, such as being allowed to use a private bathroom.

Kennedy, a medical doctor by profession, said it makes sense the he would be the one to run this legislation as he can speak in medical terms as to what gender a person, medically speaking, would be identified as.

Kennedy said the legislation is not meant to be associated in the gay marriage or anti-discrimination debate taking place on Capitol Hill. He said the bill simply is looking to provide comfort to students and parents on which bathroom a student should use.

What happens with Kennedy’s bill remains to be unseen.

The legislation may be deep-sixed before it ever gets started in the process as legislative leaders are considering a moratorium on all bills dealing with LGBT issues and marriage.

On Tuesday Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, told reporters that the attorney general’s office had suggested to the legislature that it may want to hold off on debating any legislation that deals with LGBT rights or marriage definitions as the debates may harm the state’s case in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals dealing with Utah’s definition of marriage.

With that in mind, lawmakers are now looking to hit the pause button on any legislation that may be tied to the topic until the court rules on the matter.

Kennedy said he hasn’t heard that this bill would be included in that moratorium but does see that it could be wrapped up into that category.


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