(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed a measure that allows multi-occupancy bathrooms in the Land of Lincoln to be genderless if a business or public institution chooses.
State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, filed House Bill 1286. The new law allows 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 signed by Pritzker that made all single-occupancy bathrooms in Illinois gender-neutral.
The measure has led to pushback from Republican lawmakers over it being implemented in schools.
State Rep. Kevin Schmidt, R-Millstadt, told The Center Square that parents should be the ones to make these decisions for their children.
“It’s not the role of the school to be having those discussions,” Schmidt said. “It’s the role of the parents to be having those discussions. They [schools] need to stay out of it. They need to teach math, English, reading, the core subjects that we are failing in Illinois, and stay away from discussions such as that with children.”
Previous reporting by Wirepoints showed that in 2022, 53 Illinois public schools had no students who could do math at their grade level and that an additional 30 schools had no students who could read at grade level.
The report uses data from the Illinois State Board of Education and found that 18% of the state’s 3,547 schools have only 1 out of 10 students who are capable of reading at grade level.
Schmidt said laws like this one only put the state further from what he believes should be their priority.
“When they get off on these far extreme tangents such as this, it just distracts from what we really need to be doing, and that’s educating our children,” Schmidt said.
State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said he supports the measure if it is done safely.
“The debate on the path to this bill becoming law was important. The implementation of this multi-occupancy genderless bathroom should take the concerns laid out during those discussions and use them when setting up the new bathroom facilities,” Ford told The Center Square. “Safety must be at the forefront of the process.”
The law sets up protections for those using the bathrooms, requiring stalls to have floor-to-ceiling dividers that lock. Urinals also would not be allowed, and no businesses would be required to install all-gender multi-occupancy restrooms.
The measure goes into effect immediately.