Top Democrats back gender-neutral bathrooms for Capitol

Top Democrats back gender-neutral bathrooms for Capitol

Democratic leaders scramble to add more gender-neutral bathrooms in the Capitol as Biden celebrates Pride month in the White House

  • Two senior Democrats are pushing for gender-neutral bathrooms
  • They want them in the Capitol and the surrounding House office buildings
  • Rep. Katherine Clark and Hakeem Jeffries argue that the bathrooms will benefit members of transgender and disability communities
  • In all three buildings there is only one bathroom for single use

Two senior Democratic lawmakers are pushing to add more gender-neutral bathrooms in the Capitol.

Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Hakeem Jeffries of New York argue that adding single-occupancy restrooms would benefit members of the transgender, gender-nonconforming and disability communities.

“The introduction of single-use toilets will make a visible difference in the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, as well as other marginalized communities, including people with disabilities, older adults and parents of young children,” they write.

There is a single toilet in the Longworth House Office Building but none in the other two House Office Buildings.

Lawmakers showed their support for a request from staff for more such bathrooms, and their letter came the same day President Joe Biden was holding a Pride Month event at the White House.

“Concern about the lack of appropriate facilities is shared by our staff and visitors who have shared their stories and experiences with us, including members of the LGBT Congressional Staff Association,” the two Democratic lawmakers wrote to Rep. Zoe Lofgren, leader of the House Administration Committee that oversees facilities on Capitol Hill.

Clark is the Deputy Speaker and Jeffries the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, making them senior members of their party.

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York

Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts (left) and Hakeem Jeffries of New York (right) argue that adding single-occupancy restrooms would benefit members of the transgender, gender nonconformity and disability communities

Transgender bathrooms are an issue that has come under political fire.

Last month, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, signed legislation requiring public school students to use restrooms and locker rooms that match the gender listed on their birth certificates.

Transgender students who refuse to use the toilet required under the measure would be required to use “a single-person toilet or changing room provided by the school.”

In addition, a federal judge last month overturned a Tennessee law that would have required state businesses to post warning labels on their public restrooms if they have policies allowing transgender guests to use facilities that match their gender identity.

Transgender people have become political targets.

Conservative state lawmakers across the country enacted more than 100 anti-trans laws this year, with a particular focus on transgender students.

And Florida has become ground zero in the fight for LGBTQI rights.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation into law, the Parents’ Rights in Education Act, which critics have successfully dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

It certainly aims to limit LGBTQI discussion in schools and have parents sue schools for teaching they don’t like.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden react to remarks by Javier Gomez, LGBTQ youth activist, during a Pride Month event in the East Room of the White House

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden react to remarks by Javier Gomez, LGBTQ youth activist, during a Pride Month event in the East Room of the White House

President Joe Biden signs an executive order at an event celebrating Pride Month

President Joe Biden signs an executive order at an event celebrating Pride Month

At the Pride event at the White House, Jill Biden, a teacher, called out for states that are passing such laws and said schools should be safe places for LGBTQI students.

“We know there are rights attacks in places across the country, like Florida, Texas or Alabama. And we know that prejudice and discrimination still lurk in towns and cities. It shouldn’t take courage to be yourself. It shouldn’t take courage to go to school and walk down the halls as the person you know you are,” the first lady said.