South Carolina Bill Banning Transgender People from Public Restroom Use Will Not AdvanceBy Adam Polaski • April 29, 2016 • 9:53 am
Great news this week out of South Carolina, where lawmakers are clearly learning from the mistakes of their neighbors in North Carolina. House Bill 1203, a bill that sought to deny access to restrooms and other sex-segregated facilities to transgender people, will not advance this year. The bill, which was opposed by several members of an important committee, needed to move forward by the end of April in order to advance.
Yesterday, lawmakers in South Carolina headed home for the weekend, spelling the end of the anti-transgender bill. The move comes after hundreds, including advocates at South Carolina Equality, the Campaign for Southern Equality, and Gender Benders, rallied in front of the SC Capitol last month.
This marks a great step forward for South Carolina – but the LGBT community isn’t fully in the clear yet. Having had his extreme discriminatory law rejected by his fellow elected officials, the bill’s sponsor is reportedly trying to sidestep democracy by weaponizing the state budget and overriding the will of thousands of South Carolinians who have voted for equality in their own communities.
In April, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said she didn’t see a need for the bill. She said, “While other states are having this battle, this is not a battle that we’ve seen is needed in South Carolina. And it’s not something that we see that citizens are asking for in South Carolina.”
If the bill did advance, the anti-transgender law would have almost certainly faced legal challenges. Just last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit – which has jurisdiction over South Carolina – ruled in favor of a transgender high school student in Virginia, who has been prohibited from using the boy’s bathroom – despite his male gender identity – by his school board. The discriminatory policy, the 4th Circuit ruled, is in clear violation of the federal Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in schools receiving federal financial assistance.
By doing the right thing and not advancing the anti-transgender HB 1203, South Carolina lawmakers are smartly rejecting the path of North Carolina leaders and instead following in the footsteps of lawmakers in Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Tennessee, in which bills banning restroom use have all failed or been rejected this year.
The truth has been proven over and over again: Anti-transgender bills like these are not only harmful to transgender children – but they’re also crippling for public schools and the state overall, as they violate federal law. Leaders in other states facing similar legislation or considering bringing legislation like this next year must stand together and handily reject such blatant discrimination.