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Monday, December 14, 2015

California Privacy Group Calls for Lawsuits to Control Public Bathroom Access Based on Gender

Posted By on Mon, Dec 14, 2015 at 11:59 AM

  • Cade Buchanan/Flickr

If you live in California, your bathroom privacy is apparently under attack, and a cadre of horrified parents and church folk is gathering signatures to enforce genital segregation.

Privacy for All, the cadre in question, is peddling the Personal Privacy Protection Act, which seeks to prohibit “individuals from using facilities in government buildings except in accordance with their sex as determined at birth, through medical examination, or court judgment recognizing a change of gender.”

As we all know, there’s no more pressing issue in the state than making sure someone of the opposite sex doesn’t play peekaboo with your junk, which Privacy for All aims to ensure by encouraging civil lawsuits. If you see someone of the opposite sex using your public bathroom and feel your privacy has been violated, you can sue for at least $4,000.

Privacy for All’s FAQ page doesn’t say how determinations of gender are to be made, but one can only surmise that peeping over shoulders and/or urinal side-eye are the only foolproof methods.

To be clear, this applies only to restrooms and other “private” facilities in government buildings, but even so we’re talking a wide range of buildings, including “any city, county, city and county, public university system, community college district, school district, special district, or any other political subdivision or governmental instrumentality of, or within, the state.”

The group is no doubt encouraged by what happened in Houston this year, when a conservative coalition —including many faith groups — defeated the city’s Equal Rights Ordinance that allowed people to use restrooms based on their gender identity rather than their biological gender.

In California, allowing bathroom access on the basis of gender identity has been mandatory in public schools since Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s AB1266 was signed into law in 2013.

“Activists are using scare tactics to bully schools into implementing forced co-ed facilities immediately,” Privacy for All says, adding, “Society expects these facilities to contain a certain amount of privacy, including not being open to the opposite sex. A woman not wanting to use the same dressing or showering area as a man is not discrimination.”

Today is the last day the group can postmark the 500,000 valid signatures necessary to get the proposal on next year’s ballot. (The group actually needs 365,880 valid signatures to qualify, but to account for errors and discounted signatures, they’re seeking 500,000.) Privacy for All is making a last-minute push on its under-populated Facebook and Twitter accounts, using hashtag #StopUnwantedExposure.

As the Washington Times reports, this isn’t the first time Privacy for All has tried to take its campaign all the way to Sacramento. Last year, the group gathered 620,000 signatures but failed to make the ballot after California’s secretary of state threw out more than 131,000 signatures.

Thanks to low voter turnout this year, the number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot is lower: 358,880 as compared to 540,760 in 2014.

That's good news for these so-called privacy watchdogs, but bad news for LGBT rights activists who see this (rightly so) as a reversal of their hard-won civil rights. 

“We fully expect our opponents to use the same misinformation and scare tactics in California that they used in Houston,” Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, told the Washington Times. “Since they can no longer stop same-sex couples from getting married, this is the next page in their attempts to discriminate against the LGBT community. That’s why this is an attack on both transgender people and the LGBT community as a whole.”

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Jeremy Lybarger


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