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The Virginian Pilot: Legislation advances in Virginia House to base use of school restrooms on anatomical features, not gender identity Print

BY:  BILL SIZEMORE 

Created:  Thursday, February 4, 2016

Legislative measures are advancing in the House of Delegates to require that use of school restrooms be based on anatomical features, not gender identity, and to prohibit Virginia localities from banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Meanwhile, a variety of legislative proposals to expand the rights of gay and transgender Virginians have been shelved for the year.

HB781 from Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania County, would require that public school restrooms, locker rooms and shower rooms be restricted to males or females on the basis of their biological sex, which would be determined by a student’s birth certificate and his or her anatomical features at birth.

Cole called the measure a “common-sense” proposal designed to protect students’ privacy. The bill drew support from conservative and religious groups. Several transgender people and parents of transgender children complained that the measure promotes intolerance and fear-mongering.

HB77 from Del. Robert Marshall, R-Prince William County, would bar cities, counties and local school boards from prohibiting discrimination on any basis other than race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, national origin, age, marital status or disability.

Both measures were approved on 5-2 party-line votes Thursday by a Republican-controlled subcommittee of the House General Laws Committee.

Meanwhile, on orders from House Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford County, the subcommittee tabled eight other bills dealing with sexual orientation and gender identity. They will be referred to the Virginia Code Commission, which supervises the codification of state laws, for a year’s study.

Five of those measures – HB179, HB300, HB913, HB1005 and HB429 – seek in some way to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, or both. All are sponsored by Democrats except HB429 from Del. Ron Villanueva, R-Virginia Beach.

Also tabled for study:

HB427 from Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington County, would prohibit health care providers and counselors from treating anyone under age 18 with so-called “conversion therapy,” which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

HB397 from Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun County, would specify that the terms “sex” and “gender” in state law refer to a person’s biological characteristics at birth.

Marshall’s HB77 would declare that unlawful discrimination does not include violation of federal regulations adopted since Jan. 1, 2012. The measure is an attempt to ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity are not included in state anti-discrimination laws.


 



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