Strong emotions, opinions voiced at hearing on school transgende - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Strong emotions, opinions voiced at hearing on school transgender bathroom bill

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Testimony on a bill dealing with public school bathroom and locker room use for transgender students brought out strong emotions at the State Capitol Thursday.

The Republican legislation would require all restrooms and changing rooms in public schools to be used only by students of one sex, defining sex as the gender a student is identified at birth. It would essentially ban a transgender student from using a bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

But schools would have to provide private accommodations for transgender students that ask for them.

The transgender students who testified in front of the Assembly Committee on Education made it clear they do not want to be forced to use the bathrooms or locker rooms designated for their biological gender.

"The last time I was forced to use my biological gendered bathroom, I had several panic attacks and felt dysphoric for the rest of the day," said Aden Haley-Lock, a transmasculine freshman at Madison East High School.

Transmasculine 15 year-old Leland Hilliard said he also doesn't like the alternative of using a private, single stall bathroom.

"Using a binary bathroom creates a tremendous amount of anxiety, stress and dysphoria for Trans students," said Hilliard.

Both Hilliard and Lock said they use a multiple stall, gender neutral bathroom set up by Madison East. But that type of facility also wouldn't be allowed under the bill.
 
"This policy encourages a safe, private and dignified learning environment for all students," said Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum), who authored the bill.

The Madison Metropolitan School District is one of several in the state where transgender students are allowed to use the bathroom of the sex they identify with, while non-trans students are the ones who must ask for private accommodations if they feel uncomfortable.

Several supporters of the bill spoke out against such policies.

"It's not appropriate for school districts to treat the use of minors for bathroom and changing room facilities as a cause," said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action.

"Recently we see that the social order in schools across the United States is being ripped apart by the insistence of gender dysphoria, that they be allowed to utilize facilities of their newly chosen gender," said Mary Weigand of West Bend.

But because dozens of school districts have already developed their own policies, administrators testified to say they want to continue to handle the issue their own way.

"We see Assembly Bill 469 as seeking a one size fits all solution from state government, when what is needed is broad school district flexibility to meet student needs on a case by case basis," said John Forester, director of government relations for the School Administrators Alliance.

There were some Republicans on the committee that also expressed a desire to see legislation that would allow districts to maintain a bigger degree of local control on the issue.

It remains unclear if the bill will come up for a vote when committee members meet in executive session next month.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Thursday, you'll be able to voice your opinion on a bill that would set a statewide standard for the bathrooms transgender students can use.
    The bill from assemblyman Jesse Kremer and senator Steve Nass requires students to use bathrooms designed for the gender they were born with.     
    This means transgender students would not be able to use restrooms that align with their gender identity.
    Kremer says it will provide safety and privacy to students.
    The bill hits home for Avi Zajac, who is transgender.
    His brother, Skylar, who was also transgender, committed suicide earlier this year.
    Zajac says the bill would put transgender students in a tough position.  
"You're kind of stuck between either being seen as going to the wrong bathroom or just harassing students. It... people just stare at you. It's humiliating," said Zajac.
    The public hearing in front of the assembly committee on education is at 10 a.m. Thursday Room 417 north at the state capitol.
    27 News will have you covered on what happens

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