Opponents of a gay rights measure in Idaho are highlighting what they call the “bathroom” problem.
They say protections in the bill for transgender people could lead to unsafe conditions in women's public restrooms and locker rooms.
The bill's language bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as well as “gender identity.”
Julie Lynde of the Cornerstone Family Council told lawmakers that would make it difficult to kick a man out of a women’s bathroom.
“This is a big deal for women,” she said. “This isn't about whether a guy can wear a dress. It's about whether he can take it off. In front of your daughter, your wife, your mother, your sister, your aunt.”
Richard Eppink with the ACLU of Idaho calls the bathroom concern “overblown.”
“People concerned about assaults and other crimes taking place in our bathrooms, we have criminal law that prevents crime in our bathrooms, regardless of the gender of the people who are perpetrating those crimes,” he said.
He and other proponents of the bill said it doesn't make sense to force someone who identifies as female to use a men's restroom.
The Idaho House State Affairs Committee is expected to vote on the bill this week.
Lynde and others referred to a controversy at Evergreen College in Olympia where a transgender woman with male genitalia was allowed to use a women's locker room. The college cited the state's law protecting gender identity.
Similar fears have been expressed in other places that have considered nondiscrimination laws. The Pocatello City Council considered adding a provision to its ordinance that would have made it illegal to enter a bathroom that doesn't correspond with the gender on your driver's license.
Idaho Lawmakers heard from several transgender people at Tuesday morning’s hearing, including 13-year-old D.W. Trantham of Boise.
“Imagine if I was your daughter or granddaughter,” she said. “What sport team would you want me to play on? What clothes should I wear? What bathroom should I use?”
Boise Chief of Police Mike Masterson testified the bill would increase public safety by making gay, lesbian and trans people feel more comfortable about reporting crimes against them.
Republican Rep. Brent Crane asked him to confirm that the bill would allow someone who's transgender to enter the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
“They do that now,” Masterson replied.