MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers advanced legislation Tuesday that would bar transgender students from using school bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their current gender identity.
The Senate Governmental Affairs approved the House-passed bill with little debate. The legislation now moves to the full Alabama Senate where it could receive final approval in the final three days of the legislative session.
Republican supporters said it would address an ongoing problem in public schools but opponents said the measure targets vulnerable trans youth to score political points.
The bill would mandate K-12 schools require students to use multiperson restrooms and locker rooms that match the sex on their original birth certificate.
Republican Rep. Scott Stadthagen, the sponsor of the bill, said during House debate on the bill that schools are being asked to accommodate transgender students who request to use the bathrooms that align with their gender identity.
“It’s a problem that was brought to my attention the last fall. The bill is short and sweet. It says whatever your original birth certificate states as your gender, that is the bathroom you use in K-12 schools,” Stadthagen told the committee on Tuesday.
Opponents of the bill, including the mother of a 13-year-old transgender boy, disputed claims that the bill is about safety saying there is no evidence of males dressing as females to attack girls in the bathroom. She said the bill targets trans youth for the sake of politics.
“This bill is an embarrassment to the state of Alabama and endangers our gender-expansive youth … Transgender children struggled for years to understand their identity and using the restroom is the most basic of human rights,” Vanessa Tate Finney told the committee.
Similar policies in other states have resulted in litigation.
The U.S. Supreme Court last year rejected a Virginia school board’s appeal to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban, handing a victory to transgender rights groups and a former high school student who fought in court for six years to overturn the ban.
The full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently heard arguments in the case of a transgender student in Florida who was blocked from using the boy’s bathroom.