Bathroom Rule: Clearing Up Confusion on the Legislative Response

 

Many have expressed confusion with all the happenings surrounding the Washington State Human Rights Commission’s rule on open-bathrooms and the repeal effort. The legislative process is very complex, and oftentimes, legislators will use the natural confusion about the process to influence the outcome that they want to achieve. But be confused no more!

On December 26th, 2015, the Human Rights Commission enacted a rule, WAC 162-32, that contains provisions that open up bathrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities inside “public accommodations” by allowing people to enter those facilities by the way they claim to identify internally rather than what their DNA and biological structure would show. Because of the rule’s clause that makes it unlawful to ask “unwelcome questions” such as the gender or motives of a person entering the facility, concern exists that sexual predators – who otherwise would never otherwise claim to identify as a woman — may use this rule to shower with women or spy on them in the bathroom with better legal protections.

The Human Rights Commission has rule making authority delegated by the legislature. Therefore, the rules it makes are legally-binding and do not require the legislature’s approval to go into effect.   The legislature does, however, have the authority to overrule the Human Rights Commission, and change the level of authority that the commission carries.

The Human Rights Commission met on Thursday night to hear a petition from a citizen, but declined to overturn their rule after hearing the concerns of citizens. The only way this Human Rights Commission meeting would have affected the repeal efforts is if the Human Rights Commission had overturned their ruling. Other than that, Thursday’s meeting had no implications on the ongoing process to repeal the rule.

This legislative session, three separate efforts have been initiated by the legislature to repeal the rule on open-bathrooms. While the three bills have the same general goal – repealing the rule – they go about it in three separate ways.

SB 6443 by Senator Doug Ericksen is the bill that has made the most progress to date. This bill literally calls for a repeal of the provisions in WAC 162-32 that opens up bathroom, locker room, and shower facilities, and removes the Human Rights Commission’s authority to make rules on that subject ever again. This bill is currently at step 7 in the 22-step legislative process. You can click here to watch a video that explains the legislative process in Washington. In short, SB 6443 is far from becoming law; the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee passed it on Wednesday, however. This week, SB 6443 will likely be heard and passed by the Senate Rules committee, making it eligible to be voted on by all Senators in a floor vote. If the Senate passes the bill, an identical version of it must be introduced, heard and passed in the House of Representatives. That version of the bill must be introduced and pass through a policy committee by February 5th in order for this legislative effort to remain alive.

HB 2589 by Rep. Graham Hunt is a bill that amends the underlying civil rights law to clarify that the law did not intend to say that gender identity or gender expression are sufficient reasons to enter a bathroom, locker room, or shower facility, and that biology must be accounted for in entry policies. This is the bill that Rep. Laurie Jinkins has said that she would not hear in the House Judiciary Committee. If she doesn’t hear the bill in that committee, it cannot pass in the conventional method. A House member would have to pull it directly from the introduction to the floor, which can be done according to House rules, though it’s not a common occurrence. It would be preferable that Rep. Jinkins schedules a hearing for the bill, but it must be scheduled and heard by February 5th in order for this effort to remain alive. As with any other bill, identical language would have to be introduced by a bill in the Senate and pass through the policy committee in step 3 (click here to watch a video on the legislative steps) by February 5th.

SB 6548 by Senator Judy Warnick contains very similar language to the bill introduced by Rep. Graham Hunt (HB 2589), but it doesn’t contain an exemption allowing minor children and disabled people from being allowed to use the opposite-gender bathroom, as Rep. Hunt’s bill contains. This bill has been introduced in the Senate and will be heard in the Senate Law and Justice Committee on Monday, February 1st, at 1:30pm. Concerned citizens can attend this committee hearing and make calls to members on the committee.

All of the bills focused on this effort contain provisions to repeal the dangerous policy enacted by the Human Rights Commission. Even if one or all of these bills passed through both chambers, they must be signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee, who, while he has declined to comment, has not been sympathetic of public safety concerns. Of course, in election years, politicians’ actions are often unpredictable, as many are worried about re-election — that’s why the volume of phone calls and emails is so important to these efforts.

FPIW encourages all concerned citizens to email their legislators about this issue, call their offices, and contact Governor Inslee’s office as well.  For bills marked “SB”, you should contact Senators; for bills marked “HB”, you should contact members of the House of Representatives.

Share your concerns. Your input matters and your concerns are being heard. Stand with FPIW to fight this policy to the end!

Human Rights Commission to Consider Repeal of Open-Bathroom Rule

 

Concerned citizens have submitted a petition to the Human Rights Commission to repeal WAC Rule 162-32-060 that opens up showers, locker rooms, and bathroom facilities to people by internal gender identification rather than biological realities.

The Human Rights Commission will hear this petition, among other business, at its meeting tonight in Olympia.

Concerned citizens should make plans to attend this hearing and voice their concerns directly to the Commission.

If you are unable to attend tonight’s meeting, you can submit your comments and concerns to Human Rights Commission Executive Director Sharon Ortiz, at SOrtiz@hum.wa.gov.

Washington State Human Rights Commission
Commission Meeting
Thursday, January 28, 2016 @ 5:30 PM

Legislative Building
416 Sid Snyder Ave. SW, Columbia Room
Olympia, WA 98501

More information about the hearing can be found at this link.

Responding to a Defense of the Bathroom Rule

 

The Washington State Human Rights Commission recently passed a rule requiring all schools and public accommodations, including businesses, to allow people to access locker rooms, showers, and bathroom facilities based on the gender identity or gender expression they claim.

The public’s response to this rule has been significant.

Legislators have reported receiving as many as 1,000 phone calls and emails on this issue.  While legislation to overturn the rule has been introduced in both the House and Senate, some legislators have attempted to defend both the rule itself and the process through which it was enacted and many of you have sent us a copy of their response.

The letters we have received from legislative offices who are supportive of the new rule generally make the exact same points. The following letter from Rep. Laurie Jinkins is a good representation of these responses.  I have included my response to her response, just in case you find that interesting.

Thank you for contacting me about rules that the Washington State Human Rights Commission recently adopted to provide clarity about how Washington law prevents discrimination against transgender people.  I appreciate hearing from you.

As you may know, Washington passed a law in 2006 that provides protection for transgender people against discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation.  Since that law was passed 10 years ago, transgender people in Washington have been able to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

Nothing in Washington’s 2006 law changed the fact that separate facilities exist for men and women.  The law allows a person who has undergone or is undergoing gender transition to use the restroom or locker room that matches the gender they live every day.  Nothing in the law or in the adopted rules changes the fact that it is illegal to enter a restroom or locker room to harm or sexually harass people, or to invade their privacy.

This is an attempt to make the argument that the new rule by the Human Rights Commission changed nothing and that this debate actually took place in 2006.  This is false.  When sexual orientation was added to the non-discrimination law in 2006, gender identity and gender expression were not a part of the conversation.  Those pushing to include sexual orientation in the non-discrimination law spoke exclusively about making sure that people didn’t get fired for being gay and making sure that people could visit loved one’s in the hospital.

The reason they didn’t hold a press conference to announce how wonderful it will be when people with a penis can undress in the women’s locker room is because, if they had, the law would not have passed and they knew that.

Many other states, counties, and cities across the country have adopted laws that are similar to Washington’s.  At last count, 17 states and more than 200 cities across the country have passed and successfully implemented such non-discrimination laws, with no increase in public safety incidents.  Under federal law, the U.S. Department of Education has worked to ensure that transgender students are able to use restrooms and locker rooms at school that align with their gender identity.  Additionally, the federal Department of Labor issued guidelines in June 2015 that require employers to offer restrooms and locker room facilities consistent with an individual’s gender identity.

It is true that the federal government threatened to pull funding from a local school district in Chicago unless they allowed a boy to shower in the girls locker room at school.  It is also true that other states have passed laws they claim are aimed at protecting people from being fired for their job while slipping in protections based on gender identity and gender expression. However, when the public understands that the issue is about bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers, they side with privacy and common sense.  Recently, residents of Houston, Texas voted 61-39 to repeal a citywide ordinance that would make all bathrooms and locker rooms accessible to anyone.

As to the Department of Labor’s guidelines…the fact that the federal government does stupid stuff does not require a state to do the same.

The rules recently adopted by the Human Rights Commission do not change Washington’s 2006 law.  Instead, the rules are designed to increase clarity and understanding about the requirements of the law.

As noted above, the public doesn’t believe they had this debate in 2006.   The fact that the public is outraged by these new revelations while the legislature is saying, “Whats the big deal, we did this 10 years ago” means one of two things: either the legislature was being deceptive about what they were doing 10 years ago, or they are being deceptive now.  Regardless of which is true, the public is owed an apology and a remedy.

The agency held four public meetings across the state – starting in 2012 – to receive public input about its plans to issue these rules. In May 2015, the agency publicly proposed the rules, and members of the public were able to provide comments on them, either in writing or at a public hearing that was held in June 2015.  The rules were finalized in November 2015.

In this video, Susan Ortiz, Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission, shines some light on this allegedly “open process.”  She said that the public notice of these meetings was given through the Washington State Code Reviser’s office website.  Raise your hand if you know who the Washington Code Reviser is?  Understandably, the public meetings were “not well attended.”

In addition, they had a one-month public comment period, also posted on the code reviser’s website, where people could submit comments.  She explained that “no one submitted anything.” When pushed, she qualified her initial statement with, “there was a few, so…”

Of course the only reasonable explanation for why they would have received no input on this issue from the public is that the public had no idea it was happening.

All of us, including transgender people, care about safety and privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms.  I understand that there has been confusion and concern recently about what implementation of these non-discrimination regulations means.  However, the experience that we’ve had over the past 10 years in Washington, as well as the experiences in many other places, show that non-discrimination laws and policies can be successfully implemented while upholding the safety of everyone.

I can’t help but believe that everyone involved sincerely cares about public safety.  But the public response is not due to “confusion” about what implementation of the rules means; rather, it is due to how troubling the rule is once clarity about it is reached.

The fact is that sexual predators have been caught pretending to be transgender as a way of gaining access to private spaces. Read about some of them here, here, here, and here.  And that was before the law notified them that they had a right to be there as long as they “identify” or “express” as a woman.

I am also encouraged that many organizations in Washington that advocate for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence have expressed strong support for policies and laws that allow transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

If true, this only demonstrates that people with otherwise good intentions can have their judgment clouded by political allegiances.

Like many other people, understanding transgender issues has been a journey for me as well. While it can be difficult to understand someone whose shoes I’ve never walked in, I know it is not for me to judge.  What I do know is that transgender people often face isolation, singling out, and sadly all too often violence.  As we move forward with our concerns for protecting the safety of our youth and families, we must not vilify transgender people in the process.

Per usual, the argument closes with attempt to make you feel like a bad person if you don’t want naked men undressing next to your daughter at the local swim club.

Of course there are transgender people and they deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect that we all do.  But it is not reasonable to demand the entire world forfeit their right to privacy as a way of making them feel more comfortable with their understandably unique challenges.  No one is vilifying transgender people.

If anyone is being vilified, we are vilifying those in our state’s leadership who are so beholden to political special interests groups that they would knowingly ignore the will of the public, create opportunity for those who would harm our children, and sacrifice the privacy of the public in furtherance of it.

Thank you again for contacting me and for your concerns about our community.

No.  Thank you.

You can call your legislators about this or any issue through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or you can email them all at the same time by clicking here.

Washington Senate Schedules Hearing on Bathroom Rule

 

The Washington Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor has scheduled a hearing for SB 6443, the Senate version of the bill to repeal the Human Rights Commission’s open-bathroom policy.

On Wednesday, January 27th at 1:30pm, concerned citizens can attend a public hearing at the Washington State Capitol. The hearing will take place in the John A. Cherberg Building, in Hearing Room 1 (see Capitol map here).

You can access the page with the meeting place, time, and agenda at this link.

WATCH: How to Testify at a State Legislative Hearing

The Washington House of Representatives has also introduced a bill to repeal the HRC’s rule, however, it must be approved first by the House Judiciary Committee.  Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Rep. Laurie Jinkins, a well-known LGBT activist, has publicly announced that she will not give HB 2589 a hearing.  “There’s a plethora of reasons, but I would say repealing someone’s right to not be discriminated against is not a priority for me,” Jinkins said.

The legislative process is supposed to allow for the people to provide input on legislation that affects them. FPIW Action, a partner of FPIW, has been urging concerned citizens to call Rep. Jinkins’ office to ask her to schedule a hearing on this bill, HB 2589.

If you would like to call her office to provide your input, the phone number is (360) 786-7930.

You can click here to use our contact portal to send an email to your legislators.

Will you chip in $5 or more to help us push back on the bathroom rule?

 

 

 

Transgender Bathrooms and the Real War on Women

 

You’ve heard it before.

Don’t think it’s awesome to abort babies? You’re engaged in a war on women.

Don’t want to pay for someone else’s abortion or birth control? That’s also part of the war on women.

Don’t think a baby should be aborted just because she’s a girl? Somehow, that is also part of the war on women.

Even if a woman is making the argument.

Opposition to abortion is framed as a “war on women” because only women can have babies.

Men can’t be “burdened” with a pregnancy for biological reasons; therefore, it is a matter of equality to ensure that women can’t be either.

Underlying this entire argument is the belief that some issues are unique to women.

In fairness, the fact that women and men are different is something that the left and right have long been able to agree on.

Until now, perhaps.

You may have heard that the Washington State Human Rights Commission (HRC) recently issued a mandate that all schools and public accommodations open up their bathroom facilities based on gender identity rather than biological gender.

Presented as a step toward inclusion for those who experience gender dysphoria, the premise underlying this rule is in direct conflict with everything the left has always said about women and women’s rights.

By issuing this rule, the HRC notified women that “women’s right to privacy” does not extend to public bathrooms.

Women are now being told that it is wrong for them to be uncomfortable if the person in the locker next to them at the local gym has a penis. They’re just supposed to accept that “in his head, he feels just like you.”

If a woman is unable to overcome her prejudice, the mandate requires her to be removed from the locker room so the man won’t feel judged.

This new mandate is not simply a war on an individual woman’s right to privacy in the bathroom, it is a war on womanhood in general. Indeed, the transgender phenomenon is an attempt to force the world to accept that being a woman is nothing more than a feeling.

People are running for President today demanding “equal pay for equal work.”

Volumes of federal and state laws have been written to ensure equal protection for women in every area of civil life.

The federal government and most states have programs designed to help businesses owned by women.

Most universities in America have “Women’s Studies” programs that encourage students to understand issues unique to women.

Then, in that same university, you’ll walk down the hall and see a sign outside the bathroom reminding you that there is nothing—not even anatomy—that is actually unique to women.

So basically, the message is that, “Being a woman is very special. But the really good news is that, anyone can be a woman!”

After all, Caitlyn Jenner was named “Woman of the Year” by US magazine in 2015.

We’ve all heard about the war on women.

And there may actually be one.

But it might be worth revisiting whether it is being waged by those insisting that every baby girl has the right to her first breath, or by those trying to convince you that every man is only an outfit change or plastic surgery away from being part of the sisterhood.

Or maybe I’m just being a man—if there is such a thing.

Follow Joseph Backholm on Twitter for more updates and commentaries.

WA Senate Introduces Bill to Repeal New Open-Bathroom Rule

 

Members of the Washington State Senate have introduced a bill to repeal the Human Rights Commission’s new open-bathroom rule.  Senate Bill 6443 is similar to the House Bill 2589, which was introduced last week on the same topic.

Proponents of the bill are concerned about the implications that the Human Rights Commission’s new rule will have for women and children.  The rule mandates that schools, businesses, parks, and other public accommodations begin allowing people to use restrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities based on their internal identification rather than their biological gender.

In addition to the new policy on access to facilities, the new rule also bars individuals from directing “unwelcome questions” to those using facilities and makes it illegal to use pronouns consistent with biological gender if the person requests something otherwise.  You can read more about the now-effective bathroom policy here.

Here is a list of Senators currently signed on to sponsor SB 6443:

  • Senator Doug Ericksen (42nd L.D.)
  • Senator Barbara Bailey (10th L.D.)
  • Senator Mike Padden (4th L.D.)
  • Senator Steven O’Ban (28th L.D.)
  • Senator Jan Angel (26th L.D.)
  • Senator Randi Becker (2nd L.D.)
  • Senator John Braun (20th L.D.)
  • Senator Mark Miloscia (30th L.D.)
  • Senator Judy Warnick (13th L.D.)
  • Senator Bruce Dammeier (25th L.D.)
  • Senator Jim Honeyford (15th L.D.)
  • Senator Mike Hewitt (16th L.D.)

If you’d like to get involved on this issue to protect women and children from predators, here are some ways you can join the effort:

  • Thousands of Washingtonians have made calls and written emails and letters to their legislators.  If you would like to, please click here to use our contact portal.
  • Washingtonians from every county in our state have signed onto a petition to urge the legislature to repeal the HRC rule on open-bathroom.  Click here to add your name.
  • If you use Twitter, Tweet your reason for opposing the HRC rule using the hashtag #HRCTargetingMe.
  • Subscribe to FPIW’s weekly podcast, FYI, for updates on issues like these.  Click here for more.

Lake Stevens School District Proposing New Bathroom Policy Tonight

 

FPIW has learned that the Lake Stevens School District’s School Board of Directors plans to meet tonight, in part, to implement a new bathroom policy, in order to be “compliant” with Washington State’s new bathroom policy.

You can read a copy of the proposed policy here.

The Human Rights Commission of Washington passed WAC 162-32, mandating that all schools and businesses implement a new open-bathroom policy.  While this policy legally opens up women’s restrooms, locker rooms, and showers to men, the rule creates a loophole that allows men who claim to ‘identify’ as a woman to gain access, increasing opportunities for potential predators to attack and abuse with little ability to prosecute them.

School Districts’ first priority should be protecting the safety and privacy of its students, and there are legal consequences to consider if they do not.

Concerned citizens are encouraged to call the Lake Stevens School Board of Directors (425) 335-1502 to express their concerns, and attend the meeting tonight.

Lake Stevens School Board Meeting

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016 at 6:30pm

School District Building

Educational Service Center in the Community Room

12309 22nd St NE

Lake Stevens, WA 98258

Gov. Inslee Won’t Answer Question About Bathroom Rule; Bryant Opposes

 

On December 26th, a new rule went into effect that has generated a significant public response.   The rule, which was passed by the Washington State Human Rights Commission, mandates that all schools and businesses in Washington State maintain open bathroom/locker room policies which will allow people to choose the facility they want to use based on their gender identity or gender expression.

It makes it illegal for any school or business to ask someone to use a bathroom that corresponds to their biological gender or to provide them a separate gender neutral option.

Members of the Human Rights Commission are appointed by Governor Inslee.

InsleeYesterday, FPIW communications director Zach Freeman had a chance to talk with Gov. Jay Inslee as well as his Republican challenger Bill Bryant to ask them their thoughts on the new rule.

Gov. Inslee appeared uncomfortable and resorted to asking Mr. Freeman a series of questions in an apparent attempt to avoid answering any questions himself:

Gov. Inslee: Are you a journalist?

Mr. Freeman: I’m trying to be.

Gov. Inslee: Who do you work with?

Mr. Freeman: The Family Policy Institute of Washington

Gov. Inslee: Who is that?

Mr. Freeman: It’s Joseph Backholm’s group…

Gov. Inslee: It’s a what group?

Mr. Freeman: It’s a group that does family policy

Gov. Inslee: Well what kind of family policy

Mr. Freeman: We do issues of marriage, life, religious freedom…the things that nobody really likes to talk about.

Gov. Inslee: Really? What kind of things are they working on?

Mr. Freeman: Well, at the moment I’m actually asking about the bathroom rule that was proposed by the Human Rights Commission…

Gov. Inslee then cut off the question by again asking Mr. Freeman if he was a journalist and who he was working for.

He concluded the exchange by telling Mr. Freeman that if he became a part of the Associated Press “then I’m really happy to answer your question.”

You can hear the full audio of the brief but awkward exchange below:

After the interview, FPIW reached out to Governor Inslee’s press office for a statement on the issue but they have not responded.

BryantBill Bryant, the only current challenger to Gov. Inslee in the 2016 gubernatorial election, was also in Olympia yesterday. He was more willing to discuss the issue. “Everybody deserves to be in an environment where they feel safe.” Bryant said.  “That includes someone who is transitioning between genders, but it also includes a high school girl who wants to go into a locker room.  I think the Human Rights Commission picked the rights of one group over the rights of others.”

Bryant suggested that it would be appropriate for the Governor to set the rule aside for 24 or 48 months so that the legislature can address it.  You can hear Mr. Bryant’s statement below:

If you are a member of the Associated Press, you can contact the Governor’s office at 360-902-4111 where he would apparently be happy to answer your questions about this issue.  Please do ask, because the rest of us would like to know.

Everyone else can use that number to share their thoughts about this issue with the Governor.  If you do, please be respectful. He needs to hear from you, but not if you’re angry.  That only hurts the cause.   Besides, the person answering the phone is not the Governor.  It’s just someone doing their job who probably hasn’t ever done anything mean to you.  But if you’re kind to them, they’ll be happy to relay the message.

You can also email the Governor by clicking here.