Tag Archives: Student Privacy Protection Bill

Human Rights Campaign condemns Wisconsin Republicans’ bathroom bill

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization, condemned today’s decision by the Wisconsin Assembly’s Republican leadership to allow a hearing on legislation that the group contends would encourage discrimination against transgender students.

Assembly Bill 469, dubbed the “Student Privacy Protection Bill” by its backers and the “bathroom bill” by its critics, seeks to ban transgender students in K-12 schools from using the gender-segregated facilities that align with their gender identity rather than their birth gender. It would require school districts to repeal anti-discrimination reforms and accommodations policies.

The legislation contradicts best-practice recommendations from leading medical and mental health groups, civil rights organizations and education associations. It also conflicts with findings and guidelines from federal agencies — from Labor to Justice, HUD to Education.

HRC issued a press release stating that Assembly Bill 469 “puts trans students in harm’s way and puts school districts in conflict with federal law legislation that would expose trans and gender nonconforming students to heightened risk of bullying, harassment and discrimination. Not only is the bill shameful and horrific public policy, passing it would put the state in conflict with federal law.”

An earlier hearing on the bill was scheduled for Nov. 5, but postponed after by the U.S. Department of Education determined that a similar bill in Illinois violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

“This bill doesn’t belong on the floor of any state legislature — it belongs in the garbage,” said HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow.  “All members of the Wisconsin Assembly should be deeply concerned about how AB 469 will place transgender and gender non-conforming students at risk for discrimination and harassment. This reckless and irresponsible bill would put school districts and educators in direct conflict with federal law, creating unnecessary confusion and liability for schools all across Wisconsin. The legislature should abandon this proposal, focusing instead on creating an inclusive learning environment that enables all students to succeed, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

This year has seen an alarming uptick of anti-transgender state bills across the country, according to HRC. Bills aiming to restrict transgender Americans’ access to public accommodations, school activities, or appropriate medical care have been introduced in Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas, South Dakota, Minnesota, Connecticut and South Carolina.

“Fortunately, each of these harmful state bills was defeated in 2015, although such legislation is likely to be reintroduced next year,” HRC said.  

Tell Wisconsin Republicans to flush ‘bathroom bill’ and retrieve their minds from the toilet

“Bathroom fears flush Houston ordinance.” Such headlines circulated on Nov. 4, the morning after voters went to the polls in Houston and rejected a broad measure — the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, better known as HERO — intended to protect 15 classes of people from discrimination.

The Human Rights Campaign called the defeat at the polls devastating for the people of Houston and a setback for the LGBT civil rights movement.

The measure had strong support from local politicians and the business community, but was challenged by a conservative faction that dubbed it the “bathroom ordinance” and argued it would allow predatory men to invade women’s restrooms.

A “Weekend Update” segment on Saturday Night Live on Nov. 14 ridiculed the Fox-influenced right-wing campaign against the ordinance. “So the theory is that guys, in their relentless quest to watch women go to the bathroom, are going through years of hormones, surgery, changing their names, their wardrobe, coming out to their families, all for that big payoff of peeing in a room without urinals. What is this fantasy that they think is going on in there?” said actor Pete Davidson.

Yet, as ludicrous as it seems, that was the argument to win over about 61 percent of those who cast ballots on Election Day in Houston.

Of course, the opponents of HERO were peddling lies about its intent and its potential impact, just as Wisconsin Republicans, seeking to advance a “bathroom bill,” are circulating fiction as fact and playing up gross and harmful stereotypes, casting transgender kids as deviants, perverts and predators.

Once a pioneering state on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, Wisconsin lacks a statewide law banning bias based on gender identity. What exists are partial piece-meal protections in more progressive communities and more progressive school districts.

Now, Republicans are keyed up to roll back limited protections for transgender students in dozens of districts and halt any further reform.

AB 469, the Student Privacy Protection Bill, seeks to ban transgender students in K-12 schools from using the gender-segregated facilities that align with their gender identity and would require school districts to repeal anti-discrimination reforms and accommodations policies. The legislation is contrary to best-practice recommendations from leading medical and mental health groups, civil rights organizations and education associations. And the proposal is in conflict with findings and guidelines from federal agencies — from Labor to Justice, HUD to Education.

In Early November, the U.S. Department of Education issued a landmark ruling, finding that a suburban Chicago school district discriminated against a transgender student on the basis of her sex.

In junior high, the girl was denied access to the girl’s locker room and the girl’s restroom. This treatment caused her to be bullied on a daily basis and her parents vowed that she would not suffer the same in high school. They legally changed the child’s name, obtained a corrected passport that identified the child as female and submitted medical records to the school.

The result? The girl was still denied access to the girl’s locker room and disciplined when she did use the girl’s facilities.

The Education Department, after a lengthy investigation, concluded the school district violated federal law by denying a girl access to a gender-appropriate locker room for changing clothes simply because she is transgender. The decision placed school districts across the nation on notice that Title IX requires making such facilities available for students who are transgender.

The girl, known in the ACLU’s legal challenge as “Student A,” has hopes that “no other student, anywhere, is forced to confront this indignity.”

But if the ill-informed anatomy police succeed and AB 469 becomes law in Wisconsin, more students will suffer and students will be forced to confront indignities.

Take action

Tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m., the Assembly Committee on Education will hold their first hearing on AB 469, which would target transgender Wisconsin students for unfair treatment.

Before the legislators take up this dangerous bill for the first time tomorrow, they need to hear from you, their constituents.

Take a minute right now and click here to email your lawmakers directly before tomorrow’s critical hearing.