A Virginia lawmaker introduced legislation similar to North Carolina's transgender bathroom law, which has consumed that state for months and scared off businesses and sporting events.
Republican Del. Bob Marshall introduced the legislation Tuesday, sparking a strong pushback from civil rights groups who say the bill is discriminatory.
The Physical Privacy Act would generally prohibit individuals from using a bathroom of the opposite sex in government-owned buildings.
“What I’m saying here is just keep it as it is right now," Marshall told News4. "Look, if there have been transgender people for a couple hundred years, they haven’t had these problems. They’ve accommodated themselves, and other people have accommodated themselves.”
The bill would also require public school principals to notify parents within 24 hours if a child requests to be recognized as a member of the opposite sex.
“To open up facilities like a locker room to have guys go in there while girls are undressing is highly problematic, and if you don’t understand that, I probably can’t explain it to you,” Marshall said.
“I think this is legislation that’s in search of a problem that doesn’t exist,” Fairfax County School Board member Ryan McElveen said.
He doesn’t think a principal should essentially out a student to his or her parents.
“I think that’s a conversation that kids and parents have to have themselves, and it shouldn’t be up to the schools to facilitate that,” he said.
In addition to privacy, the bill is about safety, Marshall said.
“Let’s say you’re a woman going down 95 at 8 o’clock at night and want to stop at a state-owned restroom. Do you want guys walking in and out there while you’re in there? I don’t think so," he said. "This is a public safety issue as far as I’m concerned.”
TransGender Education Association of Greater Washington Executive Director the Rev. Emma Chattin disagrees with that argument.
“There are laws in place to prevent that man from doing anything harmful," Chattin said. "Those laws are there for a good reason and good purpose. This other bill, there’s no need for it.”
Marshall said his proposal is in response to attempts to liberalize schools and stressed it has nothing to do with private schools or businesses.
A similar bill filed last year died in committee, and Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vowed to veto such types of legislation.