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An Open Letter on the Bathroom Rule


Dear FPIW,

I am really grateful for your leadership and resourcefulness on this “Open Bathroom/Showers” issue. I have PTSD, am a rape survivor, as well as a domestic violence survivor.

I already wrote senators and did all that I could.  I wish that these heartless legislators who said for people to “stop being afraid” could understand what it is like to be raped, and understand that people with PTSD cannot just ‘stop being afraid’.  When naked men are allowed to be in the stall next to women as they undress or they emerge from the gym shower with their naked penis in full view, for the women and children undressing, it is SHOCKING and TERRIFYING.

I cannot see a stranger’s penis and simply “not react.”

PTSD (especially with repeated experiences of violence) is physiological and, as I have learned, actually alters part of the limbic area of the brain AND the autonomic nervous system (“fight or flight”).  When I am around a ‘trigger’ (such as an image that triggers a memory), I have a physical reaction — shaking, fright, nausea; I can feel my heart pounding in my chest, feeling that my well-being might be threatened.  I cannot control this automatic physical reaction.

If I were to suddenly be next to a naked man, I know I would panic, suffer physically from the instantaneous physical reactions from my PTSD, and would need the entire day to calm down.  Why would a ‘transgender’ person get their ‘feelings hurt’ just by using the restroom/shower that matches their anatomy?

We cannot just sacrifice our safety.  It may just be a matter of time for a woman or a child to be raped as predators enjoy this new, easy opportunity by just waltzing right in, pretending to be transgendered.

God help us through this nightmare.

God Bless you all.

-Anonymous

Breaking News: WA Senate Kills Efforts to Repeal Open-Bathroom Rule

 

Update: 3:35pm PST

The Washington State Senate has voted against passage of SB 6443, a bill that would have repealed the Human Rights Commission’s dangerous open-bathroom rule, by a vote of 25-24.

Three Republicans voted alongside Democrats to kill this bill: Senator Joe Fain, Senator Steve Litzow, and Senator Andy Hill. Senator Jim Hargrove and Senator Tim Sheldon broke ranks with their fellow Democrats and voted for the bill.

Update: 3:47pm PST

Joseph Backholm, Executive Director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, has released this statement in regards to the Washington Senate’s action to kill SB 6443:

“Today, the Washington State Senate voted to repeal the right to privacy that every person in Washington State has long expected in locker rooms and bathrooms.  In doing so, they have created legal protections for those who would access private spaces to do harm.  They have also created significant liability for businesses and schools who would try to protect students and customers.

The public understands that common sense and compassion are not in conflict, but in a political environment simple truths are sometimes lost.”

For press availability for Mr. Backholm, please contact FPIW’s offices at (425) 608-0242.

Stay tuned for more information throughout the day.

Update: 4:44pm PST

You can view a list of the Senators who voted for and against this bill by clicking here.  FPIW is urging concerned citizens to contact their Senators to share your thoughts about this vote and ask those who voted ‘NO’ to reconsider.

 

Meet the Human Rights Commissioners Who Gave Us Open Bathrooms

 

In December, five unelected members of the Human Rights Commission of Washington, quietly instituted WAC (Washington Administrative Code) Rule 162-32, or the “Open-Bathroom Rule” — the rule that requires schools, businesses, and all other “public accommodations” grant any individual access to restrooms, locker rooms, or shower facilities based on the way they claim to identity or express themselves internally.

This misguided mandate puts everyone at risk.  Children at school, a place where safety and privacy should be more important than anything else; business owners who risk being sued for legitimate attempts to protect their customers’ safety — they’re all targets of a leftist plot to give an excruciatingly small segment of the population a little bit more comfort with their dysphoria. You can read the full text of the Human Rights Commission’s rule here.

To be clear, the concern related to this rule is not that transgendered people are necessarily predators.  The concern is that the rule creates opportunities for those who are.  Regardless, the loss of privacy is an injury even if no assault takes place. Emotional harm is real too.

The Commissioners, who are appointed by Washington’s governor, have the authority to make such rules—which amount to state law—with limited input from the people or state legislators.  As evidenced by the recent open-bathroom WAC, the commissioners are uniquely positioned to do whatever they feel is fit, and generally, no one has questioned it (hence, why they hadn’t published their activities online for almost two years).

We at the Family Policy Institute of Washington think that it’s important for the people to know who’s making decisions for them, especially since these commissioners remain almost completely unaccountable, except to Governor Jay Inslee (who won’t answer your question about the open-bathroom rule unless you’re with the Associated Press).  Here’s a bit more about the Human Rights Commissioners who gave us the open-bathroom rule:

strong Charlene Strong (@CStrongSeattle): A commissioner since 2009, Charlene Strong is a very involved and well-known LGBT activist who was previously married to a man, but came out as gay and later began a partnership with narrator Kate Fleming. Fleming’s death in 2006 motivated Strong to lobby the Washington State legislature to pass a domestic partnership bill, which it did in 2007.  As a result of her LGBT activism, she met with President Obama to discuss legalization of same-sex marriage, and has also met with other progressive celebrities.  She currently works closely with Equal Rights Washington, an LGBT advocacy group that seeks to ban therapy for teens with unwanted same-sex attraction and hormone therapy access for minors — and even young children — who believe they are transgender.

You can contact Commissioner Strong by clicking here.

 


55_skyleeRobinsonSkylee Robinson (@skyleejane): Robinson is a commercial litigator for Nellermoe Wrenn, PPLC, a graduate of the University of Washington’s law school, a former paralegal for the Army National Guard, and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Pike Place Market Foundation.  According to her attorney bio, Skylee has “always been committed to civic engagement,” and has worked extensively to represent illegal immigrant workers in court.  Robinson has also been known to participate in LGBT activism, attending Pride Parades in Seattle with her fellow commissioners.

You can email Ms. Robinson to share your thoughts here.


 

58_ClarenceHendersonClarence Henderson (@hendeezi): Henderson, a member of the commission since June 2012, is a native of Alabama and a graduate of Norfolk State University as well as Regent University School of Law. Outside of the HRC, Henderson serves as a Board Advisor to the Tacoma Urban League Young Professionals. Henderson is based in Tacoma, Washington and works as a defense attorney in Pierce County. He was once part of a high-profile case that was part of an effort to fight the state’s “auto-decline” law, which automatically refers juveniles who commit certain violent crimes to adult courts. Click here to email Mr. Henderson.


62_LenoreThreeStarsLenore Three Stars: Lenore is Oglala Lakota, born on the same reservation as her father, the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Lenore spent many years working as a civil rights activist with the U.S. Department of Education in Seattle, Washington, where she worked to resolve discrimination complaints, further Native American education in public schools, and help native students succeed. Currently, Lenore is a part-time grad student at the North American Institute of Indigenous Theological Studies, and works for both a native non-profit, as well as an Evangelical Church. Indeed, Lenore has discussed her religious journey extensively through videos and blog posts. Given her commitment to the Church, it’s interesting that she would support the open-bathroom policy, as it could potentially require some Washington churches to open themselves up to liability and wrongfully interfere with the separation of church and state.


 

63_SteveHuntStephen Hunt, Chairman: Hunt, a native of Massachusetts, was appointed to the HRC in 2012.  In the past, he worked for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), engaging in extensive work extensively dealing with discrimination in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. In addition, he worked directly with the Tribal Employment Rights Offices (TERO) for 21 tribes in these states.  He is a self-proclaimed “expert” in employment discrimination laws and the administrative process, though he has no formal legal training.  The EEOC, which began classifying transgender individuals a protected class only within the past few years, has been a major player in attempts to vilify those who voice opposition to issues with transgender rights.

You can email Chairman Hunt here.


Good government happens when people are engaged on the issues.  We encourage all concerned citizens to contact the Human Rights Commission to express your concern with this rule.  While they aren’t elected by the people, they survive on taxpayer dollars, and they should be held accountable by the people who allow them to exist.  If you don’t like something, say something.

The Human Rights Commission’s stated mission is “to prevent and eliminate discrimination through the fair application of the law, the efficient use of resources, and the establishment of productive partnerships in the community.”

Don’t think these unelected few should have the power to make legally-binding rules?  Want the Commission and the state legislature to know that you want this rule repealed?  Sign our petition here and be sure to contact your legislators, which you can do through our contact portal here.

With your help, we can put a stop to the HRC’s overreach and repeal this dangerous open-bathroom policy.  Supporters of the open-bathroom rule give large amounts of money to the causes they care about. Please consider joining forces with FPIW in our efforts to repeal the open-bathroom rule.  Thank you.

The Sad Reality of Sex-Selective Abortion in Washington

 

For the past few decades, states have struggled to implement laws that would protect the most basic rights of the most vulnerable members of our society: the unborn. While the issue of abortion maintains a high profile nationally, and has for a long time, there’s a large subset of abortion cases that rarely get mentioned at all: sex-selective abortions.

What is sex-selective abortion?  Sex-selective abortion is when a mother chooses to abort her baby based on dissatisfaction with the gender in which the child has developed.  The Population Research Institute estimates that sex-selective abortions take place more than 1.4 million times per year in India and China alone.  While this practice has historically been more common in Asia, it’s prevalence in the United States has grown dramatically.

Despite the reality that sex-selective abortions are one of the largest causes for abortions in the world, they rarely manage to make headlines in the U.S., generally dominated in debate by whether or not abortion should be available in cases of rape or incest.  In fact, according to Operation Rescue, not even 1 percent of all abortions take place because of rape or incest.

Several states have introduced legislative efforts this year to curb the practice, including Washington. The Washington Senate’s Committee on Law & Justice heard testimony on SB 6612, and was passed through to the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday night.  If ultimately passed, it would prohibit sex-selective abortions statewide. The bill, sponsored by Senator Ann Rivers (R-La Center), would make a performance of sex-selective abortions a Class C felony, violations of which result in penalties ranging from hefty fines to prison time.

The bill, sent now to the Senate Rules Committee, faces off directly against the abortion lobby.  Even though 17% of pregnant women in Washington have abortions, the abortion lobby appears to be greatly concerned with the rights of women to choose an abortion in any case they deem necessary, even if their life isn’t in danger.  (Watch: Abortion doc Anuj Khattar defends sex-selective abortion)

Despite this, it is important to shine a light on the role sex-selective abortions play in Washington, which Michael Pauley certainly did.

Pauley, testifying on behalf of Human Life of Washington, gave a compelling testimony about the alarming frequency of these types of abortions in the U.S.  Quoting a study conducted by the University of Connecticut Health Center, Pauley noted how there were “approximately 20,000 missing females in this subset of U.S. births from 1983 to 2002 or an average of 1000 per year.” Twenty thousand.

It’s important to note that studies also suggest prenatal sex-selection is particularly prominent — especially for 2nd and 3rd children — among Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the U.S.  While this statistical observation may be offensive to some who oppose the bill, this is undoubtedly relevant to Washington, where these demographics comprise about 10% of the total population (about 700,000 people).

Now, this may not be surprising to some, given the long history of certain cultures preferring male babies over female.  Yet while rates may be higher overseas, sex-selection still takes place among these demographics here in the U.S., as well in other Western nations. As Pauley highlighted in his testimony, one study found “male-biased sex ratios among U.S.-born children of Chinese, Korean, and Asian Indian parents in the 2000 U.S. Census,” evidenced by the finding that “if there was no previous son, sons outnumbered daughters by 50 percent.” This dramatic deviation in favor of sons is solid, yet troubling evidence that these types of abortions, motivated by a desire for one sex over another, are indeed occurring in the United States.

Most Americans — even supporters of abortion rights — can agree that choosing to end a pregnancy based on no other reason than unwanted sex is deeply disturbing, and is antithetical to the most basic standards of morality. Still, the practice is permitted in many places across the U.S., and progressive groups like NARAL Pro-Choice Washington are fighting SB 6612 from passing through the Senate.

For a state that claims to champion women’s rights, the status of those rights has been badly damaged in Washington.  From the abortion providers who pressure and mislead women into terminating their pregnancies, to the cover up of sexual abuse exhibited towards patients, and the recent rule made by the Human Rights Commission making it legal for men to access any public restroom, locker room, or shower facility statewide.  Women are not safer in Washington.

Senate Bill 6612 represents a real opportunity for the legislators of Washington to remove a threat to women at their earliest, most vulnerable stage of life.  It may not be possible to dissuade those whose cultures and ideology assure them it’s perfectly okay to end their child’s life because they don’t like its biological sex.  But, as Pauley explained to the Senate Committee Tuesday, identifying that the desire for sex-selective abortion exists is “only one-half of the economic concept of ‘supply and demand.'” What must be done to end this deplorable practice is to restrict those eager to supply these types of abortions.

It won’t be easy, given the fact that many who work in the abortion industry have no problem serving individuals who want a sex-selective abortion.  Despite this, we’re hopeful that with your help in supporting SB 6612, we can achieve this small step in the fight to protect human life.

The vast majority of sex-selective abortions are committed against females.  If you’re going to claim to be for women’s rights, you can’t be for sex-selective abortions.

Please call your legislators to support passage of SB 6612 in the Rules Committee and on the Senate Floor.

The HRC Tries to Explain the Bathroom Rule…and Fails.

The Washington State Human Rights Commission is in damage control mode.  About a month after a rule allowing access to bathrooms based on gender identity and gender expression, the public is still outraged.

Legislative offices have reported receiving as many as a thousand phone calls and emails about the issue and as a result three bills have been introduced in an attempt to fix the problem. While the sponsors of these bills are all Republicans, conversations around the capitol show that concern about the implications of this new rule are definitely bi-partisan.

Earlier this week, somewhere between 500 and 800 people showed up at the Capitol for a public hearing on the issue, the vast majority of which were in support of legislation to nullify the HRC’s rule.

The public outrage has led the HRC to create Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document.  While the document represents a noble attempt to make the rules seem reasonable, the information it provides is not accurate.

For example, the FAQ document says:

The rules include a provision that transgender individuals cannot be required to use a gender segregated facility that is inconsistent with their gender identity.  The rules do not give protections to anyone who accesses gender segregated facilities under false pretense, nor do the rules protect anyone who acts in an illegal or inappropriate manner.

The issue that everyone except the members of the HRC seem to understand is that, since trans-genderism is a legal status that depends entirely on the feelings of the person involved, it is impossible to prove whether someone has false or true pretenses.

When Taylor Buehler was arrested inside a woman’s locker room at Everett Community College, he was arrested for voyeurism; for simply being present in a place where he did not belong.  He was also wearing a bra and wig.  If Taylor Buehler went into the women’s locker room at Everett Community College today, he would have a legal right to be present.

Don’t you dare try to make a legally meaningful difference between the two.

The entire purpose of the transgender movement is to eliminate a legal standard for what it means to be anything.

This is exactly the point the HRC makes only a few sentences later.

The definition in the law does not limit protections to persons who have certain anatomical characteristics, who have had gender reassignment surgery, or who have undergone any other medical treatment.

So how are you supposed to know whether someone is acting under “false pretenses” or not? You’re not.

Then they attempt to deal with the sharpest criticism of the new rule.

Q:        Can men now go into women’s bathrooms or locker rooms?

A:        No.  Only females can go into women’s bathrooms or locker rooms in a gender segregated situation.  This includes transgender females who identify as female.  The rules do not protect persons who go into a restroom or locker room under false pretenses.  For example, if a man declares himself to be transgender for the sole purpose of entering a women’s restroom or locker room, then the rule would not protect him.

Here we encounter the same problem.

What is the difference between a transgender female and a male?  The thoughts in his head.  How exactly is law enforcement going to prove that someone doesn’t feel female?  They aren’t.

But it gets even better.  In an attempt to provide clarity for businesses who want to know if someone is “legitimately” transgender or “just pretending”, the FAQ document says this:

The rules do not prohibit asking legitimate questions about a person’s presence in a gender segregated facility.  It is suggested that these questions be asked in a polite and non-confrontational manner.

This sounds reasonable.  The only problem is that the rule they actually passed says this:

(2) Prohibited conduct. Prohibited conduct may include, but is not limited to, the following: (a) Asking unwelcome personal questions about an individual’s sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity, transgender status, or sex assigned at birth;

So…you are prohibited from asking “unwelcome personal questions” but apparently they’re ok with you asking “legitimate questions.”

Clear as mud.

Washington businesses can rest comfortably knowing that your liability will rest on a court’s determination of whether your question was “unwelcome” or “legitimate.”  Meanwhile, the rest of the world points out the fact that a question can be both legitimate and unwelcome.

They go on to assure businesses that…

In addition, it is extremely unlikely that someone who is pretending to be transgender, and who is ejected from a facility, will take the steps of filing a complaint or a lawsuit against that facility.

Clearly the members of the HRC have never met a lawyer before.  If your client is caught in the bathroom with a bra and wig and charged with voyeurism or indecent exposure, any last-in-his-law-school-class public defender will be able to argue that his presence in the girls locker room was lawful because he was “expressing” as a female. “Your honor,” says the lawyer as he picks up the HRC rule, “says right here in black and white. He had a right to be there.”

Filing the complaint against the business to show just how offended the defendant was for the “unwelcome questions” will be the cherry on top.

The irony is that the first time this happens, the very people on the Human Rights Commission who are today assuring businesses that this can never happen could be reprimanding the business involved for their intolerance and their rush to judgment.

But it gets worse.   Regarding those who might “pretend” to be transgender, the FAQ document goes on to say…

If they do so, then the investigation conducted by an enforcement agency will uncover the fact that the person was not being honest about their status, and thus is not protected under the law against discrimination.  Any individual who fraudulently claims to be transgender for the purpose of entering a gender segregated facility in order to engage in illegal activity may also be subject to criminal prosecution.

So…you can’t enjoy the privileges of being transgender unless you actually are transgender?  Have we learned nothing?  Clearly, the HRC is intolerant of the trans-transgender.  You know, those who identify as transgender but actually aren’t.

Apparently male and female are completely fluid concepts, but transgenderism is a title given only to the qualified.

What about the potential for increased crime in locker rooms?  According to their FAQ document…

This rule does not protect behavior that is criminal or inappropriate.  Anyone, regardless of their transgender status, who is behaving inappropriately in a restroom or locker room, can be required to leave.  Law enforcement should be called whenever criminal behavior is observed or suspected.

The problem is, that many people think “behaving inappropriately” extends to people with a penis who undress in the women’s locker room.  Until this rule was adopted, the police would have been able to intervene if that were happening.

But not now.

With the new HRC rules, simply exposing yourself or watching others undress is now a protected activity.

But there’s more from the FAQ document:

Q. Did people have an opportunity to provide input before the rules were put into place?

A. Yes.  The process for agency rule-making is set out in the law, and the Human Rights Commission followed this process….During the public comment period, not a single objection or fear was raised about the issue of transgender individuals using the gender segregated facility with which they identify.

The only possible explanation for the fact that no concerns were raised is that, regardless of what was posted on an obscure website, the public did not have a real opportunity to provide input.  Or if they did, they were not aware of it.

In their attempt to answer frequently asked questions, the HRC is saying, “Don’t look at what we wrote, look at what we meant.”

Unfortunately for them, Guttenberg did invent the printing press and most of us learned how to read.

If they want the words to mean something else, they need to write different words.  Or, maybe the rule is “trans-reasonable” and it only appears to be crazy.

Yeah, that’s it.  Everyone move along.

You can call your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email a message to all your legislators by clicking here.

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.

WA Senate Bill Would Force Businesses to Pay for Contraceptives

 

For three years in a row, an abortion insurance mandate has passed the Washington State House of Representatives but failed to pass in the Senate.

Not to be deterred, a handful of Washington State Senators have renewed an effort to force Washington businesses with conviction about the issue of life and abortion to violate their conscience.

They call SB 6493 the “employee reproductive choice act,” but in effect it simply denies employers the freedom to make choices in their business that are consistent with sincerely held beliefs.

The bill would make it an “unfair practice” for an employer “to fail to provide contraceptive coverage at no cost to the employee.”

The bill, however, does not simply require that an employer provide contraceptive coverage, but that it provide coverage “pursuant to the affordable care act.”

The affordable care act specifically mentions twenty different kinds of birth control an employer must be willing to pay for.  Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts company that successfully challenged the mandate as a violation of federal law, was willing to pay for sixteen of the twenty prescribed forms of the birth control but objected to four of them because of their belief that they would end a life.

Related: Help FPIW challenge these laws and others to protect your freedom!

This bill would deny Washington businesses the protections provided by federal law and require them to pay for specific kinds of contraception that many millions of Americans believe are immoral.

By making it an “unfair practice,” this issue would fall under the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Commission and the state’s law against discrimination, which could then be enforced by the Attorney General’s office.

Both of these agencies have demonstrated their willingness to be intensely partisan when it comes to interpreting and enforcing the law — particularly when social issues are implicated.

The Human Rights Commission enacted a transgender bathroom policy mandating that all schools and public accommodations make allow their bathrooms to be used based on gender identity or expression.  The controversial new rule effectively allows men access to women’s private spaces so long as they “identify” or “express” their self as a woman.

One of the public meetings that no one knew about—allegedly intended to allow the public to provide comment on the rules before they were finalized—was held at an LGBT support center in Pierce County.

Clearly they were looking for input from a cross section of Washington citizens.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson has also demonstrated his willingness to use his office for partisan purposes as well. He not only sued Barronelle Stutzman and Arlene’s Flowers for declining to provide floral services for a same-sex wedding but he also filed a lawsuit against rural hospitals to force them to perform abortions rather than refer them.

If passed, this bill would give the Human Rights Commission and the Attorney General the authority to deal with businesses who, like Hobby Lobby, have every desire to be the best employers they can but are unwilling to pay for something they believe will end a human life.

All in the name of ending discrimination.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Health Care committee and has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing. To see which senators are sponsoring this bill, click here.  To track the progress of this bill and other bills of interest, check out our Bill Tracker at the Legislative Hub.  To email your elected officials all at once about this or any other issue, click here.  You can also call your elected officials through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

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?