Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell has introduced a proposal last week that is aimed at protecting transgender persons from discrimination when they use public bathrooms. According to the proposal, all single occupancy bathrooms is public places will become gender neutral.
If approved the bill will mandate that all bathrooms located in public places like bars, restaurants, factories, stores, state-owned and operated buildings, public and private schools, SUNY and CUNY college campuses will be gender neutral. The bill does not cover multi occupancy bathrooms.
The reasons for the legislation are two-fold; North Carolina has a controversial bathroom law that is considered as a restriction on LGBT rights and the recent move of Trump’s administration to rescind guidelines that were made by the previous administration on the bathrooms that transgender students can use.
On the national level, the debate on who can access which bathrooms is still raging but the solution is actually simple. If the restroom is single occupancy, all gender restrictions will be removed entirely. In a statement, O’Donnell said that restricting access to single occupancy facilities because of gender can really create a controversy where there should be none.
The purpose of a restroom has remained the same for generations and a progressive step will remove many situations wherein a transgender individual will have to face discrimination and harassment. A gender neutral bathroom will help secure the health, safety and freedom of transgender persons.
According to O’Donnell’s office, state senator Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island has agreed to sponsor the bill. If O’Donnell’s Bill is passed, New York will join California in creating gender neutral bathrooms. In 2016, a local law was approved in New York City to make all single occupancy bathrooms into gender neutral bathrooms in 5 boroughs. O’Donnell was not the first to sponsor a gender neutral bathroom; a proposal was made by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal from Manhattan last year.
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