(The Center Square) – Illinois lawmakers are advancing a measure that would would allow certain bathrooms in the Land of Lincoln to be genderless.
State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, filed House Bill 1286. If passed, the bill would allow for any multiple-occupancy restroom to be identified as an all-gender multiple-occupancy restroom and designated for use by any person of any gender.
The measure follows a 2019 bill approved by Gov. J.B. Pritzker that made all single-occupancy bathrooms in Illinois into gender-neutral restrooms.
Stuart explained her measure on Wednesday in front of the House Human Services Committee, saying it is not a mandate.
“It creates the opportunity for places, businesses, universities, you name it, to create a multi-stall gender-neutral restroom,” Stuart said. “It lays out requirements for what is in that facility like locking mechanisms, privacy, disposal for menstrual products and all those types of things.”
Stuart said without the bill, places allowing gender-neutral multi-stall bathrooms are breaking the law and this measure would make it legal. The bill also would require any new single occupancy bathroom to be built a certain distance away from the gender-neutral bathroom.
“If you are newly constructing or renovating and you choose to make a gender-neutral facility, the idea is that you cannot have a gender-neutral facility and then a men’s only facility right next door,” Stuart said.
While there is no set distance, this could create issues for the public, according to state Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Highland.
“I’m thinking of large arenas where you have people stacked high and low, and you only have so much space,” Meier said. “A lot of people will not want to go into an all-gender restroom.”
Meier also said the extra costs involved with plumbing and constructing these bathrooms had yet to be addressed.
“Your plumbing is run through certain areas that are heated, and they’re heated and air-conditioned, so they do not freeze,” Meier said. “Other parts of these big outdoor arenas are not, so you are adding a lot of costs.”
After discussion, the measure advanced on a 6-4 vote and now awaits further action.