MO bills could enforce gender-specific bathrooms

Posted at 2:55 PM, Feb 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-01 16:04:01-05

A Missouri high school's protest over a transgender teen's locker room use has prompted state legislators to file several bills that would make schools enforce gender-specific bathrooms and locker rooms.

The Kansas City Star reports that more than 100 Hillsboro High School students walked of school last fall to protest a transgender teen's use of the girls locker room to change for gym class.

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, has sponsored one of the bills. It says a student must use the restroom, locker room and showers of the gender indicated on their birth certificate and identified at birth by his or her anatomy.

"If you had a daughter, you might not feel that she was completely safe if young men were allowed into her shower room," Emery said.

The bill also stipulates that schools must accommodate students who assert, with their parents' permission, that their gender is different from what's listed on their birth certificate.

"Being transgender may look like confusion, but it is absolutely not," said Steph Perkins, a transgender man and interim director of the LGBT-rights group PROMO. "It's not something where you wake up one day and say, `Well, it must be easier to be a man. I'm going to see what it's like.' For most people, they know who they are their entire lives, and it doesn't match with their body.

The Missouri School Boards' Association has proposed two policy guides for local school districts on the subject. One allows transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms associated with their gender identity and another doesn't.

"The law remains very unsettled on this issue," said Brent Ghan, the association's chief of staff.

Meanwhile, the federal government has made its position on this issue clear: Transgender students should be allowed to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity.