CARSON CITY, Nev. – Do the people of Nevada want to allow transgender students to use the school restrooms and showers of their choice, regardless of their biological gender?
Do they realize that’s the likely outcome of a new anti-bullying law recently sponsored and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, according to an analysis from a reputable legal group?
Probably not, because the language was included deep within the bill, and was apparently not highlighted by the administration when the legislation was signed into law.
It’s hard to say whether the Sandoval administration tried to sneak the transgender language into the bill without anyone noticing, whether officials assumed nobody would be concerned, or whether the governor and his team were ignorant about the impact of the language.
But the Alliance Defending Freedom, a respected non-profit legal group based in Scottsdale, Arizona, sounds very certain about the impact the law will have on Nevada schools and students.
“SB 504 will require transgender students gain access to the bathrooms and shower rooms of their choice,” said a legal analysis released Monday by ADF.
It’s clear that the bill was rushed through the state legislature at the end of the recent session, which seems odd for something as apparently innocent as an anti-bullying bill.
“Under the guise of ‘anti-bullying’ the legislature is advancing the rights of a special class of citizens based on their perceived gender identities while taking away the rights of privacy and free speech of others,” said Karen England, Executive Director of Capitol Resource Family Alliance. “It’s the parents who are being bullied into submission by politicians who don’t even know what they are voting on.”
Sandra Chereb, a reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, apparently didn’t notice the transgender angle to the legislation.
She published a story on May 20 about Sandoval signing the anti-bullying bill, and never once mentioned how it might impact restroom or shower access for transgender students.
“That wasn’t part of that legislation,” Chereb told EAGnews, referring to transgender restroom and shower rights.
“I’m not saying anything on the record. I don’t even know who you are,” Chereb added, before abruptly hanging up the telephone.
The Speaker of the Nevada state Assembly, John Hambrick, said he didn’t notice anything in the legislation that would allow transgender students to use the school restrooms and showers of their choice.
Hambrick joined 35 other members of the Assembly in supporting the legislation. Only six Assembly members voted against it.
The vote was 18-1 in the Senate.
“I did not think that was part of the bill,” Hambrick told EAGnews. “I have not seen the report that you saw. I really want to do my own research on this.”
Sandoval’s communications director, Mari St. Martin, told EAGnews that she would research the full implications of the new law, but was not able to offer further insight before publication of this story.
The analysis of the bill from the ADF shows how transgender rights to the facilities of their choice is clearly spelled out in the new law. ADF has been involved in transgender legal fights in numerous states around the nation.
‘“SB 504 confers a new right on students who do not conform with their gender,” the group’s legal opinion said. “Specifically, it protects persons from being bullied because of their ‘gender identity;’ that is, the gender with which one identifies, regardless of whether it is one’s biological sex.
“Bullying includes students, teachers and school administrators ‘blocking access’ to ‘any property or facility of a school.’ ‘Property or facility of a school” includes ‘restrooms’ and “locker rooms,” both of which must ‘be maintained in a safe and respectful manner’ for all students.
“Thus, SB 504 will require schools to allow males who claim to identify as female to access the restrooms, locker rooms, and perhaps shower rooms, designated for females. And it will allow females who identify as male to access the facilities designated for males.
“Any school official or student who tries to prevent this from occurring, or expresses discomfort that it is occurring, will be guilty of bullying.”
The deceptive nature of the new law, and the last-minute manner in which it was passed, angered Nevada conservatives and parents who are concerned about the privacy and dignity of the vast majority of students.
They were disappointed earlier this year when the legislature failed to approve the Student’s Right to Privacy Act, which would have maintained separate restroom and shower facilities for boys and girls in public schools.
Now they are furious that a bill that does just the opposite – giving open access to restro0ms and locker rooms to transgender students – was quickly approved by the legislature and signed by the governor with very little notice.
Even more bizarre is the fact that the legislation was sponsored by Sandoval, a Republican, and pushed through by the leaders of the Senate and Assembly, who are also Republicans.
Social conservatives and other taxpayers who count on Republicans for common-sense government feel stunned and betrayed.
“It’s unfortunate that those who campaigned on the theme of being common-sense and pro-family have disingenuously pushed through a bill under the guise of school bullying that opens up all facilities to all genders,” said England, who added that many legislators were asked to support the last-minute bullying bill, even though some said they didn’t have time to read it.
“The governor and most of the Republican leadership in the legislature have broken their commitment to the voters and offended the entire base of the party.”
England said there is discussion about starting a petition to get the transgender restroom/shower issue on the statewide ballot.