DENVER – Transgender-rights advocates on Wednesday spoke out against a Colorado measure that they said was tantamount to segregation and discrimination.
The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee responded by killing the bill that could have banned transgender people from using changing rooms.
The bill died 7-4, with Rep. Jack Tate of Centennial the only Republican to join Democrats in killing the legislation.
“I’m offended by this bill because this is rinse and repeat prejudice,” said Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, who voted against the measure. “This bill is not original in terms of ... trying to discriminate against people.”
Current law allows for discrimination lawsuits against facility managers who prohibit access to bathrooms and locker rooms because someone is transgender. The measure would have taken away that threat of lawsuit.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kim Ransom, R-Littleton, suggested that a man might claim access to a woman’s bathroom under the current law simply to peep, harass and violate.
“We all know there are bad people in the world, and these bad actors are the ones I’m trying to address,” Ransom told the committee.
“If a group of high school boys wants to storm the girl’s locker room during shower time after gym class, there is nothing the principal can do to stop them,” Ransom added.
But high school principal Don Stensrud said he has never experienced a problem at his Fairview High School in Boulder.
“Regarding the football team all saying, ‘My gosh, we’re all transgender, we want to go in the girl’s locker room.’ This is my 14th year at the high school level. That has never happened,” Stensrud said.
He added that transgender issues are normal to today’s students.
State health officials also expressed concern that the measure would encourage harassment.
“It leads to a much higher level of discrimination against transgender individuals, including youth, and will therefore really negatively impact the health and well-being of very many Coloradans in this state,” said Al Stafford, who directs lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
But Kendal Unruh, a Castle Rock mom who is a former board member of the Christian Coalition of Colorado, applauded Ransom.
“I am extremely aware that when discrimination of any type happens to any type of person that it is a tragedy,” Unruh said. “That is not what this bill is going after. There has to be a boundary.”