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What Is a Bathroom Bill?

4 Things Everyone Needs to Know About the So-Called Bathroom Bills

Bathroom bills here, bathroom bills there. North Carolina's House Bill 2 (HB2) sparked a national debate when it passed into law on March 23, 2016, and so became the first state to ban people from accessing government-owned restrooms and locker rooms that don't match the gender listed on their birth certificates. It was dubbed a bathroom bill, a term that has a long, sinister history behind it but that has been used widely to describe other laws like it. Here's what else you need to know.

1. What exactly does "bathroom bill" mean?

The informal term is used to refer to legislation that would legally punish people who use bathrooms that don't match their sex assigned at birth.

2. What are the arguments for and against it?

Supporters say that it protects the vulnerable, namely women and children, from predators who could sneak in under false pretense. (That argument has been debunked by many people, however.) Opponents of bathroom bills say they are an attack against transgender people who are often harassed in public facilities.

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3. How is it enforced?

North Carolina police officers are unsure how to enforce the bathroom bill law, according to a Mother Jones report, with many saying they won't check birth certificates in public restrooms and will likely only investigate if complaints are filed. Democratic state representative Rodney Moore said, "There is absolutely no way to enforce this law, as it relates to the enforcement of the bathroom provisions. It is an utterly ridiculous law."

4. Where else do bathroom bills exist?

Individual states have proposed their own laws with similar restrictions, including Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee. No national bill about the matter exists, but in May, the Obama administration sent out a directive instructing public schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity or risk losing federal funding.

Image Source: Flickr user Peas
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