In the name of public safety Florida Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, is championing HB 583, which has become known as Florida’s “Bathroom Bill.” Trans activists and other LGBT groups say this bill has nothing to do with public safety, but instead is nothing more than a discriminatory bill aimed at the trans community.
Last week the bill passed a Florida house subcommittee, the first step to becoming law. Of course it still has to jump several more hurdles before it does.
The bill would make it illegal for transgender folks to enter sex-segregated facilities, such as bathrooms, locker rooms or dressing rooms, and would also compel businesses to discriminate against their own customers and employees. In other words a person could only use the bathroom that matches the gender on their passport or license.
Artiles claims the bill would protect people from predators dressing up as the opposite sex in order to do nefarious things in the bathroom.
The bill is in response to Miami-Dade County recently passing an ordinance, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, and allows trans people to choose which bathrooms, locker rooms, showers and dressing rooms to use.
“I believe that criminals — males — will use this law as the cover to go into the women’s locker room,” Artiles told media outlets. “All they have to say is, ‘I feel like a woman today.’”
But LGBT activists say this is just another attempt to discriminate against the trans community.
“The Transgender Discrimination bill is perhaps the most discriminatory bill ever introduced in Florida. This proposed bill is unnecessary, arbitrary, and unenforceable,” said Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s Transgender Inclusion Director. “This bill targets and discriminates against transgender and gender variant Floridians under the false pretense of public safety.”
Sasha Buchert, a Staff Attorney at the Transgender Law Center, believes the bill is unconstitutional.
“This mean-spirited bill is clearly unconstitutional and will result in a wave of litigation from both transgender and non-transgender people and will harm Florida’s image as a welcoming state,” she said. “The bill serves no practical purpose other than to direct animus at the transgender community and would be impossible to enforce without a bathroom monitor checking identification at the door. The bathroom bullies that have sponsored this bill would place transgender people at great risk of harassment and violence and moves Florida in the wrong direction.”
If this bill does pass though there may be a legal loophole to get around it. Compass, the LGBT center of the Palm Beaches, last year made all of their bathrooms gender neutral in order to educate and be more inclusive.
Buchert said this bill would not affect those bathrooms.
“This bill will not affect our safe space policy at Compass,” said Julie Seaver, COO of Compass. “We stand behind our message.”