The bill, backed by LGBTQ advocates, would allow businesses to offer multi-stall gender-neutral bathrooms.
(CHICAGO) In 2019, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill to make all single-occupancy bathrooms in Illinois into gender-neutral restrooms. The bill passed with a 109-5 vote in the state's House and unanimously passed in the Senate.
Now a bill to allow any multiple-occupancy restroom to be specified as all-gender has cleared the state's House. House Bill 1286, sponsored by Democratic State Rep. Katie Stuart, would allow for businesses to create gender-neutral multiple-occupancy restrooms.
The bill states its purpose is, "to promote the privacy, safety, and gender inclusivity of all Illinois residents visitors."
Stuart explained to the Chicago Sun-Times, although the bill is supported by LGBTQ advocates, it's also about caregivers of the opposite gender.
“This bill is really about when you have a caregiver that’s an opposite gender, that they can now go in with their loved one such as a mother can go in with a son and help in the restroom,” Stuart said. “And we’re talking about a normal bodily function, a human bodily function. That’s all we’re talking about.”
Stuart spoke last week regarding the bill in front of the House Human Services Committee. She explained the bill allows businesses to create genderless bathrooms, but it's not required.
"It creates the opportunity for places, businesses, universities, you name it, to create a multi-stall gender-neutral restroom," Stuart said. "It lays out requirements for what is in that facility like locking mechanisms, privacy, disposal for menstrual products and all those types of things."
Republican state Rep. Tom Morrison opposes the bill and believes it would make women feel unsafe sharing a restroom with transgender women.
“What’s happening is little by little these private spaces are being eliminated, and who’s ultimately hurt by this is women and girls," he stated on the House floor during a debate before the bill passed.
In December 2021, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) put up gender-neutral restroom signs to permit students to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity.
CPS tweeted before the signs went up, "We’re requiring all schools to adopt new signage to make our restrooms more inclusive. This is a big step forward for gender equity for our students and staff."
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