Rep. Fred Deutsch’s paranoid potty bill bullies transgender kids. It will also prevent Fred from taking a whiz at next year’s Watertown HS basketball games.
House Bill 1008 seeks to permanently exclude and ostracize transgender kids from using school bathrooms normally like everyone else. But a commenter got me wondering what impact this bill would have on adults. I reviewed the text of the bill and found no mention of adult users of school bathrooms. In not mentioning adults, HB 1008 appears to exclude adults from using school bathrooms. Consider the first sentence of Section 2:
Every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school that is designated for student use and is accessible by multiple students at the same time shall be designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex [excerpt, Section 2, House Bill 1008, as amended and approved by the South Dakota House of Representatives, 2016.01.27].
That language says that if a school says students may use a bathroom in a school building, then only students may use that bathroom. The bill text doesn’t qualify that restriction with a timeframe: it doesn’t say “during school hours.” If students tinkle there, non-students cannot.
Section 2 of HB 1008 thus creates the following restrictions:
- Teachers cannot use student bathrooms.
- The kindergarten teacher cannot use that little bathroom in her own classroom, even after all the kids have gone home for the day and she’s working late cutting out circles for tomorrow’s art project.
- Parents cannot use student bathrooms while they wait for parent-teacher conferences.
- Adults attending school basketball games can’t relieve themselves in bathrooms used during the day by students.
- Adults attending school theater productions can’t take a potty break during intermission.
- Preschoolers (they’re not students yet!) visiting the school for any reason have to hold it until they get home.
HB 1008 thus creates the unintended financial mandate that I contemplated back in November when Rep. Deutsch started squawking about his alleged concern for student privacy (well, privacy for the students he favors, but not for those darn transgender kids). If they haven’t already, schools will have to build separate bathrooms for faculty and restrict teacher-tinkling to those spaces (a policy I do not favor, since making teachers walk farther from their classrooms to use separate bathrooms reduces their productivity and inhibits their ability to monitor the student bathrooms to prevent bullying and other misbehavior). Schools won’t be able to tuck those teacher bathrooms in the faculty lounge; they’ll need to place them in public areas where visiting adults can easily find and use them. Schools will have to build separate large bathrooms to handle the crowds that come for plays and games and other community events.
It turns out that House Bill 1008 isn’t just an attack on transgender students. It’s an attack on school capital outlay funds. Or let’s try being positive: just as Rep. Deutsch’s potty bill is really about privacy, not mean-spritied culture-warriordom, this separate-toilet mandate is really about local economic stimulus, giving plumbers and contractors a surge of new work, not a drafting error arising from prejudicial zeal.
But hey, we’re all grown-ups. If the Senate passes HB 1008, we can all just hold our water at next year’s basketball games, right, Fred?