By Steve Guntli
State senator Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) has called for a repeal of new rules that would allow transgendered people access to restrooms and locker rooms of their identified gender.
The Washington State Human Rights Commission adopted the new rules (WSR 15-11-104) on December 26. The commission is a state agency that monitors discrimination and human rights violations. The commission introduced the new rules in May 2015.
The rules would require schools and businesses with more than eight employees to allow access for transgendered individuals to the restroom facility that fits their gender identity, regardless of whether they have undergone a gender reassignment surgery. According to the rules proposed in May, transgendered use of locker room facilities in schools will be addressed on a case-by-case basis by applicable school districts. Gender-neutral facilities should be made available for students who chose to use it, but transgendered students will not be forced to use those facilities.
The final guidelines for these rules have yet to be posted online.
“Parents have a right to expect that when their children go to school, the boys will use the boys’ locker room and the girls will use the girls’ locker room,” Ericksen said.
“This case offers a powerful example of a state agency overstepping its executive rulemaking power. For political reasons, the commission overturned a sensible and deeply ingrained cultural tradition without informing the public, telling the legislature or even issuing a press release.”
The issue has been contentious nationwide, with LGBT activists and conservative lawmakers taking opposing stands. Washington representative Graham Hunt (R-Orting) recently told The Daily Signal that the new rules open the floor for men who want to “take advantage” by posing as women. Hunt promised to push an amendment to the rules that would bar transgendered people who are pre-operative or non-operative from entering restrooms that don’t align with their genitalia.
LGBT activists reject this interpretation, as it implies transgendered individuals are faking their gender identity for a chance to peep in restrooms and locker rooms.
Ericksen said the commission offered little notice to the public before the legislature made the decision, and that he will be working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to repeal the new rules when this year’s session begins.