Alabama state senator’s controversial pre-filed ‘bathroom bill’ aims to protect privacy

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Silently waiting for the upcoming 2017 legislative session, you’ll find dozens of pre-filed bills in the Alabama Legislature.

Perhaps the most controversial of the current bunch is Rainbow City-Republican, state Sen. Phil Williams“bathroom bill,” SB 1.

Titled the Alabama Privacy Act, the bill aims to protect the privacy of public bathroom goers by mandating  “[a]ny person or entity that makes restroom, bathroom, or changing facilities available to the public shall do so in a manner that ensures the privacy of each individual” using the facility. The bill specifies the types of public rest rooms that may be provided based on the gender of the user.

According to the text, the requirement could be fulfilled in one of three ways: a single user facility; facilities separated by the physical gender of the users; or, if facilities are provided in a unisex/transgender manner, an attendant for each facility must be onsite to address any concerns or questions of the general public.

For entities that fail to provide what Williams deems “appropriate” facilities to the public, they will face harsh civil penalties in the following amounts:

  • A fine of not less than two thousand dollars ($2,000) for the first violation imposed upon the person or entity payable to the local governing body from whom the person or entity received its license to so provide the facilities.
  • A fine of not less than three thousand five hundred dollars ($3,500) for each subsequent violation.

Williams also provides a private right of action in court for those individuals who have been harmed or aggrieved where the appropriate facilities were not available.

“My legislation is designed to provide security to the public at large, and this bill could just as easily protect a transgender user of a public facility from being harmed as well,” Williams wrote in an op-ed back in May following President Barack Obama‘s executive transgender bathrooms directive.

The president’s controversial directive stipulated that schools must allow students access to restrooms and locker rooms of their gender “identity,” rather than their sex, or lose federal funding .

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