Education Montana Politics

Guest Post: HB 609 Would Wreak Havoc on Public Schools, Harm Students’ Privacy and Safety, and Embroil Local Governments in Unnecessary Litigation

Written by Don Pogreba
Shares


by The Coalition for Dignity and Safety

On Friday, March 17th, Rep. Carl Glimm (R, Kila), introduced a bill in the Montana State Legislature that would allow an individual to initiate civil litigation against a public school or any government entity that allows Montanans to the freedom to use the locker room/bathroom/other public accommodation where they feel the most safe. HB 609 requires a person to use a locker room or bathroom in a government building or public school that corresponds to the individual’s biological sex as designated by their original birth certificate. HB 609 places sole enforcement responsibility on city, county, and state governments. This bill would not only put the privacy and safety of Montana’s students, youth, and LGBTQ individuals in jeopardy, but would create an immense financial and legal burden for Montana’s public schools and governmental facilities, who would be responsible for paying “compensatory damages for emotional or mental distress.”

HB 609 mirrors similar bills around the country that reflect a continued effort by the extreme religious right to frighten community members and elected officials with false and damaging anti-LGBT ideology.  A recent survey[1] found that 59% of transgender individuals avoided using a public restroom due to the fear of confrontations or harassment they might experience. 77% of transgender individuals reported some form of mistreatment, ranging from physical abuse, sexual assault, and verbal harassment. Gender identity is a deeply held identity. Countless school districts around the country allow students to use facilities based on their gender identity with no reports of increased violence. Furthermore, 93 percent of juvenile sexual assault victims are abused by people they know, not by strangers. The real risk to children comes from people already close to them — family members, acquaintances, friends and authority figures.[2]  “This is a clear and deliberate attack on transgender Montanans. It forces an already vulnerable population into dangerous situations.  And in doing so, the bill prevents students from learning and community members from going about their daily lives,” says Shawn Reagor, Director of the Gender Expansion Project.

Beyond the harmful implications on Montanans statewide, HB 609 creates a significant burden on schools, cities, and counties by mandating enforcement of a virtually unenforceable law that would require new staff, technology, and invasive security protocols for using bathrooms and locker rooms. From unnecessary litigation to financial stress, this bill will also distract schools from their primary responsibility — educating Montana’s youth in a safe environment where the dignity of each student is respected. Lindsey Barnes, a public educator in Montana, states, “Schools have a moral and legal obligation to ensure all students receive an education and feel safe to come to school.  Therefore, no Montana student should be discriminated against because of their gender identity.”  The bill is not limited to schools. Public spaces such as parks, sports arenas, libraries and Montana’s many recreational areas would be equally burdened. Furthermore, the state will undoubtedly face a similar backlash to North Carolina after that state passed a similar bill, resulting in a loss of over $5 billion a year in federal funding, tourism revenue, business investment, and litigation costs.[3]

[1] Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, www.ustranssurvey.org/report

[2]  Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 2000

[3] https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Discrimination-Diversity-and-Development_The-Legal-and-Economic-Implications-of-North-Carolinas-HB2.pdf

The Coalition for Dignity and Safety includes: Montana Human Rights Network, Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, Pride Foundation, ACLU of Montana, Gender Expansion Project, Montana Women Vote, Forward Montana Foundation, Empower MT, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

10 Comments

  • These bills also complicate life and liberty for Montanans with disabilities and Montanans with children. The bill does NOT take into consideration that many Montanans with disabilities require assistance when using restroom or locker room facilities; and caregivers are not always of the same gender. Additionally, parents of children who do not share the same gender are reluctant to send children or youth into bathrooms unsupervised. Does this bill account for a particular age cap? Not that I read. I will not be allowing my son to go into a large men’s restroom or public locker room without supervision (and honestly, most parents will NOT do that).

    This bill discriminates against our transgendered neighbors and fellow citizens. It is also poorly constructed and discriminates against Montanans with disabilities and Montanans with children trying to access public facilities.

    • It’s also a colossal waste of time. There are so many important issues the legislature needs to deal with during the 90-day session. This isn’t one of them. Did Glimm’s constituency clamor for this discriminatory bill when he was on the campaign trail? I seriously doubt it. The good folks living west of Kalispell need to dump Glimm in 2018.

  • I left msu this last semester because of ptsd . I had someone thrown a flammable liquid inthe back on my coat at one point. This last summer was the last straw though. Was threatened by a student who told the threat to my teacher. She failed at reporting it to me correctly .i didnt find out about the threat till after one of my classes where I was made to move seats 1960 style because someone was uncomfortable with me…the school really isn’t a safe place for trans people and the fact that I had to come forward with a third party threat that was told directly to a teacher makes me mad. I’ve had ptsd and can’t learn while in class s because I have trouble trusting students I don’t know.. I don’t dare use the restroom when it’s really busy and I happen to be trans .. they have failed miserably in bozeman

  • You guys just don’t get it. You don’t have a president now that panders to the minorities for votes via an federal regulation change. You have one now that lets the states and the majority determine by law if they want privacy rights protected or total disregard of those privacy rights based on those with a total freedom to invade that privacy based on self professed gender identity.

    • No, you just don’t get it, Bill. This legislation was introduced to play to the scared, Republican base of which you have a leadership position. First, “you don’t have a President now that panders to the minorities…” Could you expand on that? I didn’t realize you were a Richard Spencer devotee?* Second, “self-professed gender identity?” Transgenders transition on a whim to trample on your “privacy rights,” right Bill? You have absolutely no clue about transgender people, obviously. You wouldn’t know if they were in the stall next to you or in the locker room, but that’s beside the point. You’ve sunken to new lows.

      Also good to see the Montana GOP wasting time on this pressing issue. I’m sure it’s what their constituency sent them to Helena to accomplish. Republicans have outdone themselves in introducing stupid, worthless bills.

      *http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/richard-spencer-trump-alt-right-white-nationalist

      • Rights are established by the Constitution and law as did the Civil Rights Act of 1964 addressing sex discrimination, but not self-identification gender identity that was imposed by elite dems by federal regulation. Remember it is we the people not we the elites. We have state and federal representatives that will address this if or as required.

  • It shouldn’t be necessary to make legislation for something obvious, but in 2017 unfortunately it makes sense.

    As an old fat man, I have a very strong sense of reality.

    But the current PC agenda says that I can wake up tomorrow morning, decide what sex I am, and I can decide I’m 20 years old again, and if I want to go down to the college and shower with the womens’ volleyball team it should be OK, and if they turn me away from the door I am a victim, because if I believe I’m a chick, I actually become a chick.

    Sound far-fetched? It is, yet it’s what the leftists endorse now.

    • Yes, and when they throw you out you can sue them for discrimination. How stupid can people get? I am getting more and more surprised every day.

      • Most college gyms are open to the public for a fee. Let me know when you get out of jail and get your settlement. You can buy me a drink. hehe

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: