SPRING 2017 EDITORIAL BOARD
During this upcoming legislative session, the Alabama Legislature will vote on a bill known as the Alabama Privacy Act.
Like the bill passed in North Carolina last year, which prompted a national frenzy over transgender bathroom use, this upcoming bill has come under scrutiny from LGBT advocates for being unnecessary and for targeting the transgender community.
Republican Sen. Phil Williams introduced the bill, claiming it to be a response to Target allowing people to use the bathroom of their gender identity.
In a poor attempt to deflect criticism directed at the bill, Williams offered up a paltry defense: He claimed the bill had been misinterpreted.
He correctly points out that the bill’s language does not designate an attendant hanging around in bathrooms, checking patrons before they use the facility.
However, the bill’s language does call for an attendant to be stationed right outside of the bathroom doors, in some cases.
Specifically, the bill calls for any restroom, bathroom or changing facilities available to the public to be constrained in any one of three ways.
First, they can be designed to be used by one person at a time.
Second, if establishments don’t want to opt for the sometimes costly single-use bathrooms, they can be designed to be used by multiple people of the same gender.
Or as a final option, they can be designed to be used by multiple people, irrespective of their gender, so long as an attendant whose duty is to monitor “appropriate use” of the restroom and to answer any questions or concerns posed by users is present right outside the door.
Establishments that do not conform to any of these three constrains will be fined at least $2,000 for their first violation and at least $3,500 for each subsequent violation.
One of the biggest issues with this bill is that it does not specify what gender is.
Since gender isn’t defined, it could be up to the attendants to decide how to interpret the bill, thus leaving open a wide window for discrimination against the transgender community.
Additionally, the bill risks hurting Alabama economically.
As we saw with North Carolina’s bill, which depleted its state’s budget of millions of dollars in tax revenue, progressive businesses don’t stand for oppression.
If history is any guide, a similar result could happen to Alabama’s already stressed budget and have real-life consequences for our state’s inhabitants.
In order to prevent such a potential for discrimination and economic harm, we believe the Alabama Privacy Act in its current form should be voted down, especially in view of the lack of documented cases of bathroom assaults.