Transgender protections implemented by the Obama Administration were rescinded by President Donald Trump earlier this year, and one state lawmaker is fighting back by trying to simplify New York’s law regulating public restrooms.
Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, D-Manhattan, is sponsoring a bill that would eliminate gender labels on single-occupancy bathrooms in most public places in New York, simultaneously simplifying the law while making it more egalitarian.
O’Donnell’s bill (A.6500) would require all single occupancy bathrooms in New York state to be gender-neutral. This includes single-occupancy bathrooms in public and private schools, SUNY campuses, CUNY campuses, restaurants, bars, stores, factories and any state-owned or operated building.
It is modeled after California’s recently enacted bill (AB.1732). If O’Donnell’s bill passes, New York would be the only other state in the nation to provide this equal access to public restrooms.
“As the debate rages on at the national level about who should have access to which bathrooms, the solution to single occupancy bathrooms is very simple,” said O’Donnell. “Remove all bathroom restrictions entirely.”
According to the bill memo, it would amend the state’s Civil Rights Law and the Education Law in regards to single occupancy bathroom usage, in order to fight for, and protect, transgender rights within New York state.
Senator Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island, says he has committed to being a Senate sponsor of the bill, saying “this is a common sense measure that garners bipartisan support.”
A report by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute — part of the UCLA School of Law — shows 45 percent of transgender people attempt suicide by age 24. The number rises to 50-54 percent for those who are harassed, and for those who are physically assaulted the number rises to 63-78 percent.
“Restricting access to single occupancy facilities based on gender creates controversy where there should be none,” said O’Donnell. “Aside from the toilet seat being left up now and again, the purpose of the restroom remains the same.”