‘Bathroom bill’ passes first House subcommittee stop
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/4/23-Rep. Rachel Saunders Plakon, R-Lake Mary, during the Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

The bill's sponsor says her main concern is the safety of females, but that's not how critics see it.

A bill that would define who uses what bathroom is advancing in the House — a bill with a similar intent to the one that landed North Carolina on a boycott list in 2017.

Republican Rep. Rachel Saunders Plakon of Lake Mary introduced the bill (HB 1521) that was passed largely along party lines in the House Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee meeting at its first committee stop.

Plakon’s bill defines “female” and “male” according to the “specific reproductive role of each.” The “female” is defined as “producing eggs” and the “male” as “producing sperm.”

“This act ensures the safety of all Floridians by requiring the use of common decency standards and private spaces,” Plakon said.

Plakon argued that her bill had nothing to do with transgender people’s use of bathrooms, although her definition of “gender” would not allow transgender people to use a bathroom according to gender identity.

The bill, if it becomes law, would make it a second-degree misdemeanor for someone older than 18 to willfully enter a public restroom or changing facility designated for the opposite sex. Someone would fall on the wrong side of the law if someone asks a person to leave and the person refuses.

An amendment to the bill exempts the infinitesimal number of people with a genetic disorder that makes them “intersex” — having characteristics of both genders.

Plakon argueid she was not targeting transgender people, but rather the overall problem of women being attacked in the restroom.

Caleb Hobson Garcia, a Florida State University student with a full beard, told the subcommittee that people would call the police if he followed the law.

“This is rooted in your hatred of nonpassing trans people because being faced with trans people makes you uncomfortable,” Garcia said. “If you pass this bill today, you’ll be forcing me to use the bathroom with your daughters, wives, mothers and sisters.”

The bill will likely test corporations’ willingness to punish states for policies that target transgender individuals.

North Carolina rolled back its bathroom bill that required people to use the bathroom of the gender designated on their birth certificate. It was rescinded a year after it was passed as the financial hits mounted. The bill, which also restricted protections for LGBTQ people in the state, scuttled plans for a PayPal facility and a Ringo Starr concert. The backlash also spawned  an NCAA championship games ban.

It appears that bills about bathrooms may be on the rise again, according to reporting from the Public Broadcasting System. Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a law last week that prohibits transgender people using public school restrooms that match their gender identity. Arkansas became the fourth state to place restrictions on public school restrooms and similar laws are awaiting Governors’ signatures in Idaho and Iowa.

Comments from John Labriola of the Christian Family Coalition seemed to indicate that problems with public restrooms started with the transgender movement.

“There was a three-fold increase in Peeping Tom incidents at Target, a large increase in indecent exposure with 34% of all incidents including young girl victims,” Labriola said.

Republican Sen. Erin Grall has introduced identical legislation (SB 1674) in the Senate. That bill has not yet had a committee hearing.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • PeterH

    March 28, 2023 at 4:03 pm

    The problem with Plakon’s bill filled with hate, division and bullying is a risky Florida potential outcome similar to yesterday’s tragic events a a Christian school in Tennessee. Is that the direction this State wants to go?

    Are Floridians OK with our legislators scoring political points with their “basket of deplorables” uneducated voting base while denying rest room space and adequate life saving healthcare for transgender residents? Are Floridians willing to watch our legislators and Governor corner and bully transgender residents for political gain? What could possibly go wrong?

    Folks these irresponsible legislative attacks on transgender Americans has absolutely nothing to do with freedom.

    Live and let live! Transgender medical intervention DOES NOT occur in a vacuum. Months and months of medical exams, counseling and psychological therapy happen BEFORE hormone treatment is administered.

  • Andrew

    March 30, 2023 at 6:33 am

    Transgenderism is a mental illness.

Comments are closed.


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