Bathroom Bill Similar to North Carolina's Debated in General Assembly

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WVIR News StaffRICHMOND (WVIR) - Backers of a bathroom bill similar to the one approved in North Carolina demand Virginia Republicans follow suit.

A coalition of Christians and social conservatives spoke out Thursday in the state capitol.

Advocates of this legislation say Republicans should not take the easy way out and kill the measure without a recorded vote in a committee hearing.

They argue women and children must be protected in private spaces. However, opponents say the bill won't make anyone safer, but instead divide and stigmatize Virginians.

Supporters of Delegate Bob Marshall's bill, H-B 1612, aired their concerns during Thursday's news conference. They say people should be prohibited from using the bathrooms of the opposite sex in government-owned buildings.

"If you have young women who are traumatized by having to be in a state of undress in front of a person who is a biological male then that's a hostile learning environment for them and that actually violates Title IX," said Mary McAlister, senior litigation counsel at Liberty Counsel.

The bill goes a step further from North Carolina in mandating public schools notify parents within 24 hours of a child requesting to be recognized by a different gender.

Marshall said Republicans need to be transparent this year when taking up the bill.

"It is my sincere hope that Speaker Howell and the rest of the Republican leadership will not bury this bill but have a full hearing and a record vote," said Marshall.

During this press event, a transgender man, Theodore Khan, confronted those at the podium and asked where is he supposed to go to use the bathroom.

"I deserve to go to the bathroom in peace and to not make a bodily function a criminal act," said Kahn.

Liberals and other LGBT activists in the room said they feel lawmakers should focus on other issues.

"It's disturbing that that type of piece of legislation would be filed," said Delegate Charniele Herring, D-46th District. "We saw what happened in North Carolina when a bathroom bill was passed and businesses left."

The bill would need to clear a house panel before reaching the floor. Those on the left and right widely expect the legislation will not become law, especially given McAuliffe has vehemently stated he would veto it.