CARSON CITY, Nevada (Christian Examiner) – A bill introduced in the Nevada Legislature to protect the rights of students in restrooms, showers and locker rooms also shows compassion to those with gender-identity issues, supporters say.
Assemblywoman Vicki Dooling introduced AB-375 on March 18 at the request of constituents, she told Christian Examiner.
"Parents are coming to me, very concerned about the safety of all students, safety from the bullying that goes on no matter how we try to stop it, safety from all issues," Dooling said. "Every kid needs that safety. We want all kids to have the same rights."
The bill, which was referred to the Education Committee, states that restrooms, showers or locker rooms, or any rooms "designated for use by persons of one biological sex must only be used by persons of that biological sex." Moreover, the legislation mandates that schools provide "separate, private areas" designated for use by pupils based on their biological sex any time "a pupil may be in a state of undress in the presnce of other pupils."
The bill also includes provisions for any student who expresses gender confusion.
"For any pupil who asserts at school a gender that is different from the pupil's biological sex, a public school shall provide the best available accommodation that meets the needs of the pupil, but such accommodation must not include access to a school restroom, locker room or shower designated for use by persons whose biological sex is different from the pupil's biological sex," according to AB375.
"Biological sex" means the biological condition of being male or female as determined at birth based on physical differences or, if necessary, at the chromosomal level, the bill explained.
Supporters of the bill say statewide legislation is needed in Nevada because without it, school systems are acting on their own to turn single-sex public accommodations into co-ed restrooms, showers and locker rooms.
'Without notice to parents, Washoe County School District recently passed a regulation mandating co-ed facilities in public schools," said Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute (CRI) in next-door California. Reno and Sparks are in Nevada's Washoe County, which borders California.
CRI is a non-profit organization that provides education and advocacy for family values. It is the oldest pro-family public policy organization in California. England has been involved at least 11 years in promoting family values through public policy measures.
"Turning the idea of privacy on its head, the Washoe policy declares a right to privacy for students who self-identify as a different gender than their physiological or biological sex," England told Christian Examiner. The Clark County School District, which includes Las Vegas and is the fifth-largest in the nation – apparently is attempting to push through a policy similar to Washoe County's, she added.
"The proposed Nevada law strikes the perfect balance," England added. "It shows compassion for those who feel uncomfortable in traditional sex-separate facilities, but respects the privacy and safety of so many others who would be intruded on if access to facilities is based on identity rather than reality."