Just Want Privacy, the group of anti-trans activists who tried and failed to repeal Washington state human rights protections for trans people in 2016, is trying the same tactic again at the outset of the new year.
As of today, the group has filed a proposed ballot initiative that not only repeals state human rights protections for trans people in bathrooms, but also requires public schools to maintain segregated bathrooms based on genitalia.
According to a Just Want Privacy press release, the initiative would also require public schools to provide "reasonable accommodations for gender non-conforming students," but that language is false. The proposed ballot initiative still refuses to allow trans students to use the bathrooms in which they feel safe, and it also says that these students would only be provided a separate bathroom "if one is available." In reality, the legislation aims to force trans students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their genitalia. The proposed initiative also allows students to sue schools up to $5,000 for each instance that a trans student uses a bathroom consistent with their gender identity, and would "allow businesses to determine their own bathroom and locker room policies, i.e. allow businesses to discriminate against trans people at will.
“The only restraint last year was time,” Just Want Privacy chair and Family Policy Institute of Washington president Joseph Backholm said in a press statement. "We will have six months instead of ten weeks. We know that public opinion still strongly opposes open private spaces.”
In addition to the new proposed ballot measure, Washington lawmakers have also filed a bill that allows public entities and private businesses to block trans people from using bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.
"Nothing in this chapter grants any right to a person to access a private facility segregated by gender, such as a bathroom, restroom, toilet, shower, locker room, or sauna, of a public or private entity if the person is preoperative, nonoperative, or otherwise has genitalia of a different gender from that for which the facility is segregated," the bill reads.
As of today, HB 1011 has been referred to the state House's judiciary committee. The chair of that committee, Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma), blocked four pieces similar pieces of anti-trans bathroom legislation last year, and this year she's pledged to do the same. “[If] it comes to my committee, I’m not hearing the bill,” Jinkins told the Capitol Hill Times. “I’m not interested in hearing bills that overturn our state’s anti-discrimination law.”
Washington Won't Discriminate, a group that launched a year ago to defeat state-level anti-trans efforts, is also gearing up to fight the new initiative.
“Voters didn’t buy the pitch that repealing our state’s non-discrimination protections for transgender people would somehow make us safer," Washington Won't Discriminate chair Seth Kirby said in a statement. "Washingtonians value fairness and equality and we believe that everyone in our state should be able to earn a living, frequent a business, earn an education, and raise a family free from the fear of discrimination.”