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Bill would require single-stall bathrooms in Nevada to be gender-neutral

Updated March 26, 2021 - 7:34 pm

CARSON CITY — Nevada lawmakers on Friday took a bill in the Legislature that would require all single-stall public bathrooms to be gender neutral.

Assembly Bill 280, sponsored by Assemblywoman Sarah Peters, D-Sparks, would require any single-occupancy public restroom in the state to be “as inclusive and accessible to all genders as possible.” The bill, which was heard in the Assembly Government Affairs Committee on Friday, would only apply to bathrooms intended for individual use.

“It’s really just about laying out a foundation of normalizing non-gendered bathrooms,” Peters said.

Civil rights groups lauded the bill as a step toward making transgender people, gender-nonconforming people and those with disabilities feel safer and more comfortable in public areas.

“Using a bathroom should be about finding a safe place to do a normal, daily function, like wash your hands, put on makeup or other daily tasks, and not come with a fear of harassment or fear for personal safety from other bathroom goers,” said Liz Davenport, a legal intern with the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.

The bill would prohibit the owner or operators of buildings from having signs on single-occupancy bathrooms that indicate that they are for a specific gender. It also lays out the ability for a person who feels discriminated against to file a complaint with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission. Those who violate the bill could be charged with a misdemeanor.

The bill does not require any retrofitting of bathrooms, but simply a changing of the signs, said Peters.

Andre Wade, state director of Silver State Equality, an LGBTQ rights advocacy group in Nevada, said that restricting single person bathrooms to a specific gender is “unnecessary and inconvenient”

“Compliance of the bill is a matter of changing a sign on a restroom door,” Wade said.

There was no opposition to the bill.

Discrimination outlawed

In Nevada, discrimination based upon a person’s gender identity or expression has been outlawed since 2011 under laws signed by then-Gov. Brian Sandoval.

In 2015, former Republican Assemblywoman Victoria Dooling sponsored a bill that would have required schools to limit restrooms based on a person’s biological sex. That bill was voted down 20-22 in the Assembly.

In recent years, states have passed gender-neutral single-stall bills as part of a push for transgender-inclusive facilities. Then-California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation similar to Peters’ bill in 2016. And Illinois adopted a single-stall gender-neutral bathroom bill in 2019 after it passed the state Senate unanimously and the Illinois House on a 109-5 vote.

“I’m grateful that people’s lives aren’t scrutinized under a microscope for every decision that we make, and that we can identify that there are benefits to all populations on things that also benefit transgender people or people who are non-binary,” Peters said. “Things that are good for people are just good for people, regardless of their identities.”

Other bills introduced Friday

Senate Bill 373 would extend collective bargaining authority to more state employees — specifically, professional unclassified workers. It was referred to the Senate Government Affairs Committee.

Senate Bill 374 proposes tax changes, including a tax on digital downloads, room and vehicle sharing and leasing, and event ticket resales. It was referred to the Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee.

Senate Bill 375 proposes appropriating $1 billion from the state general fund to increase teacher pay and reduce class sizes. It was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Senate Bill 382 would revise requirements for setting energy-efficiency goals for electric utilities. It was referred to the Growth and Infrastructure Committee.

Senate Bill 383 would establish new rules for electric bike classification, required equipment and operation. It was referred to the Growth and Infrastructure Committee.

Senate Bill 384 would impose a tax on charging electric vehicles. It was referred to the Senate Revenue and Economic Development Committee.

Senate Bill 386 would require certain employers in the hospitality and travel sectors to offer employees who were furloughed or laid off due to the pandemic their former jobs back “when circumstances permit.” It was referred to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter. Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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