Lawmaker hit over bill that would make students prove gender for bathroom use

A Virginia lawmaker Wednesday denied claims that his proposed legislation calling for schools to match the anatomical sex of a student with his or her designated restroom would require an inspection of the child’s genitals by an adult.

Republican Delegate Mark Cole’s legislation is called HB663: Restroom facilities; use of facilities in public buildings or schools. It calls for school boards to enforce the policy to only allow students who anatomically match the restroom, shower, locker room of that specific gender. The bill, which also calls for a $50 fine, does not specifically call for an adult inspection, but the theory is: how else can a physical gender be verified?

Cole responded to these questions in a statement posted online, where he said “If needed, gender could be verified by looking up student registration information or a birth certificate.”

Cole issued the statement Wednesday, calling the bill “common sense legislation designed to protect the privacy of children and adults and was requested by a group of parents in my district who are concerned about a male student who wanted to use the girls' facilities." He played down the bill’s criticism as a “lie started by those who want to make all facilities, including school restrooms, dressing rooms and showers “gender neutral.”

Ryan Thoreson, a fellow at Human Rights Watch who focuses on LGBT children’s rights, slammed the bill in a tweet: “HB663 is totally unenforceable in practice, but is also unnecessary, mean-spirited, and ignores everything we know about sex and gender.”

Cole was asked on Twitter to theoretically explain how the legislation would be enforced, and he responded, “On a complaint basis. A woman would report a man using the facility and a summons could be warranted. Max $50 fine.”

But even that response raises the question of how a woman would identify the anatomy of the perpetrator if there are individual stalls in the bathroom.

Tim Peacock, the editor of Peacock Panache and civil rights advocate, said the legislation forces children “to allow adults to examine their genitals out of misplaced fear that transgender kids and adults might commit a hypothetical never-before-seen act of violence or sexual aggression (that would still be against the law with or without transgender protections).”

Peacock went further and asked, once the $50 summons is given, how would a court verify the anatomy of the defendant to execute the fine?'s Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report