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'Bathroom Bill' backlash across Washington

Last Thursday, January 14,  Rep. Graham Hunt (R-Orting) introduced HB 2589, which would restrict access to gender-segregated facilities if a person is “preoperative,” “nonoperative,” or otherwise has “genitalia of a different gender from that for which the facility is segregated” in places of public accommodation and the workplace.

This so-called “bathroom bill” aims to take away vital anti-discrimination protections for our LGBTQ community, particularly for transgender Washingtonians.

HB 2589 is part of a new wave of anti-LGBTQ bills being introduced in state legislatures across the country. The goal of which is to rollback protections that ensure LGBTQ people are treated fairly and equally in the areas of housing, employment, credit, and, especially, public accommodations.

Since 2006, state law has allowed transgender people to use the restroom or locker room that matches the gender they live as everyday. Our opponents want to eliminate these protections we’ve depended on for the last ten years.

The issue further developed in 2015, when the YMCA enacted its own policy of allowing transgender individuals to use the locker room consistent with their gender identity. After members complained about the policy—some even canceling their memberships—the YMCA backtracked, mandating that in family facilities, “transgender members in transition” use private locker rooms for dressing and showering.

On December 26, the Washington Human Rights Commission, adopted policies that make it illegal for business owners to limit sex-specific facilities such as bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms to persons with the anatomical parts of one sex. In mid-December, prior to the public implementation of the new policies, the YMCA once again reversed its rules to allow transgender individuals unlimited access to the facility of their gender identity.

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In response to HB 2589, Washington’s LGBTQ community and allies have responded by forming the Washington Safety & Access for Everyone Alliance. From their website, “The Washington Safety & Access For Everyone Alliance is a coalition of organizations and individuals across Washington state who have joined together to defend longstanding anti-discrimination laws, especially for the transgender community. All Washingtonians deserve to have safety and privacy. Safety means safety for everyone, including transgender people.”

Inland Northwest Business Alliance is looking into SAFE to determine the best way for our business community to be involved.

INBA’s sister chamber, Greater Seattle Business Alliance has responded, writing, “As business leaders it is important for GSBA members to demonstrate that businesses understand that equality for all is not only the right thing to do, but is good for business. We continue to lead the business community in advocating for equality for all and are firmly against any attempt to roll back equality for the LGBT community in general, and more specifically for the transgender community.”

  • To start, call or email your state legislators and demand they preserve our state’s anti-discrimination law by opposing HB 2589.
  • Use the script/template available on WA SAFE Alliance website HERE
  • Then, call the Washington State Legislature Hotline at 1-800-562-6000
    And use Find your Legislator to email your state legislator (or use these lists: Representatives HERE and Senators HERE)

Visit (and their Facebook page) for helpful FAQs, background information, and ways to get involved. As all of this unfolds, we will update you with bill status and share opportunities to support efforts protecting our lives and preserving our laws.

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