The mayor of Baltimore has signed a gender inclusive restroom bill that will allow single occupancy bathrooms to be used by any gender, male or female.
Mayor Jack Young signed a bill the bill on Saturday during the Pride Parade held in the city. Signed in front of multiple city officials, including Baltimore Council President Brandon Scott and Councilman Zeke Cohen, the bill aims to provide the transgender community the choice to use whatever bathroom they feel most comfortable with.
The issue of gender-inclusive restrooms has caused a lot of debate in recent years. After taking in office 2017, the administration of President Donald Trump had announced that it was removing a federal device for protecting the rights of transgender people, and particularly students to use whatever restroom they choose. The Departments of Justice and Education, both led by Christian conservatives, had then issued statements saying they were “withdrawing the recommendations made under Article IX [anti-discrimination] in 2015 and 2016”, on access to single-gender facilities, such as changing rooms or toilets, for example.
It was therefore again up to the states and school districts to decide what has been dubbed “the toilet battle”. The debate was triggered in March 2016 by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who imposed the use of public restrooms based on birth gender. Transgender students are often subjected to humiliation and harassment by their peers or school authorities, who have little control over gender identity issues.
“All of your elected officials believe in equality, we believe in everyone treated the same way,” says Baltimore Council President Brandon Scott.
“We know that in the city and across the country, restrooms are a space of fear and anxiety for a trans and gender non-binary communities. To our LGBTQ brothers, sisters and siblings, let me say this, the City of Baltimore sees you, we hear you and we love you,” councilman Cohen added.
According to city officials, this new law, which will go into effect in 90 days, should also help parents and caregivers who need to go into a bathroom to take care of a child or a person in need.