California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Thursday (29 September) a bill that will make single-user restrooms accessible with all genders.
The new law, which goes into effect in March 2017, applies to businesses, government buildings, and places of public accommodation.
‘California is charting a new course for equality,’ said Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco who authored the legislation.
‘Restricting access to single-user restrooms by gender defies common sense and disproportionately burdens the LGBT community, women, and parents or caretakers of dependents of the opposite gender. Bathroom access is a biological need. This law will ensure more safety, fairness, and convenience access for everyone.’
Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi points out that California’s new law is a ‘simple measure’ that makes lives easier.
‘Having restrooms open to all genders will mean less hassle for everyone going about their day,’ Hayashi says, ‘and will allow people who don’t fit neatly into expectations of what it looks like to be male or female to use the restroom without fear of harassment.’
Assembly Bill (AB) 1732 was sponsored by Equality California, the Transgender Law Center and California NOW.
It stands in sharp contrast to the 19 other states this year that considered restricting access to restrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated facilities based on biological sex.
Most notable among those states is North Carolina which has suffered immense backlash since its HB2 went into effect. The law limits the access of transgender people to public restrooms among other things.
‘North Carolina finds itself increasingly isolated, with its economy losing up to billions of dollars in cancelled conferences, sports events and concerts,’ said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.
‘Meanwhile, California has, with a minimum of controversy, moved in a different direction. We now have a policy that gives everyone greater privacy and safety in public restrooms. It, and not hateful laws in North Carolina, Mississippi and elsewhere, should be the model for the nation.’