Last September, Montgomery County Council Members Duchy Trachtenberg, Valerie Ervin and Marc Elrich introduced Bill No. 23-07. The bill’s purpose was to “prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, cable television service and taxicab service on the basis of gender identity.” Its primary effect was to add “gender identity” as a protected class from discrimination along with age, race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, handicap, national origin or marital status under County Code Chapter 27.
After the bill was introduced, it was amended to include the following language:
A person must not deny any person access to the equal use of any restroom, shower, dressing room, locker room, or similar facility associated with the gender identity that the person publicly or exclusively expresses or asserts.After significant public pressure, the council stripped this language from the bill. The bill was then passed by an 8-0 vote and signed by the County Executive.
But the controversy continues. Bill opponents have launched a petition drive to put its repeal on the ballot in the next general election. As David Lublin has noted, their success in meeting the threshold of 25,000 signatures is far from assured.
One dimension of the controversy is whether the bill prevents bathroom operators from forbidding biological men to use female bathrooms and locker rooms. As stated above, the language on that issue was stripped from the bill prior to its passage. Council President Mike Knapp recently commented on this in a press release:
“We have heard some people are confused about the effect of this new law on how the operator of a public accommodation controls the use of a public bathroom or locker room,” said Council President Knapp. “Bill 23-07 did not change the law in this area.”Citizens for a Responsible Government (CRG), which is leading the fight to repeal the bill, told the Gazette that the language “is too vague.” But in gathering signatures for their petition drive, evidence is accumulating that the group did tell signers that the bill allowed men into women’s bathrooms – an opinion unsupported by the bill’s language.
Opponents of the legislation have circulated petitions to send the law to referendum, telling potential signers that the legislation requires men to be allowed in women’s bathrooms and locker rooms.
This is not accurate, Knapp said. The law still allows the operators of public bathrooms and locker rooms to continue to separate their facilities based on gender identity or biological gender. For example, a restaurant owner can require a biological male presenting as a female to use the men’s bathroom. The new law does not require a restaurant owner to allow biological males access to women’s bathrooms, or vice-versa.
“The misinformation being put out about this law really troubles me,” said Council President Knapp. “We guaranteed that certain people in our County will have the same rights as other residents—and that is all we did. Those who intentionally mislead people about what this bill means will have to explain what is behind their actions, but we want everyone to know exactly what this law is about.”
CRG is an offshoot of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC), which has struggled for years to exclude discussion of homosexuality from Montgomery County Public Schools. Prior to CRG’s establishment, CRC led a crusade against Bill No. 23-07, stating on its website:
Bill 23-07 adds “gender-identity” to the current Non-Discrimination Law, and will allow males who self identify themselves as females to have open access to ALL women’s and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and showers. In other words, a male teacher or student will be able to use the female restrooms and locker rooms if he thinks he is a female.Again, this view is directly contradicted by the language that was passed.
Furthermore, prior to CRG’s start of a paper petition, CRC posted an online petition to mount pressure against the bill. The statements of the signers are very revealing and if you read them, you will quickly realize their real intent. Following are some of the signers of the online petition against Bill No. 23-07 speaking in their own words:
Sheila F. Stepek, petition signer 47: “Those unable to use the proper facilities can go find a tree!!!!”
Joan Press, 109: “What restrooms are the Council members going to use? They are setting OUR children and neices up for RAPE. The council members and the State of Maryland will be hels accountable and sued for this one. Between the HOMOSEXUAL class in Montgoery County Public Schools and now this we have NO rights. Only in America! It's time to move, and we pay high taxes for this? They are Crazy or we are stupid! Or they are trying to make us look both! I didn't vote!”
Kathleen O’Connor, 167: “Stop using MY tax dollars to strip MY parental rights and stop endandering and indoctrinating our children with endless perversions.”
Bonnie Van Veldhuizen, 290: “HEADLINES: MONTGOMERY COUNTY MARYLAND EXTENDS OPEN INVITATION TO ALL PEDOPHILES AND STALKERS SEEKING NEW TARGETS. Shame on every council member who supports this bill. It may be your granddaughter or grandson in the next stall.”
Jeff He, 308: “Nonsense. Who summit the bill should GO TO HELL!!!”
Stephen W. Sweet, 492: “Gay is one thing. But a man/women thinking they are the opposite sex is litterally not figureitively, INSANE!! If this becomes acceptable; I promise the county counsel I will then become a dog and your yard, tree, light post and fire hydrant , are then MY bathroom.”
D. Selleh, 732: “Why isn't the council advising free psychological help instead of encouranging dilusion?”
Robert J. Cassotto, 757: “God is Still in control and those who are not with Him are against Him.He will show is all that He lives.God is also Just and we will very soon have to pay for following satan.....some of us will, that is! Come Lord Jesus !”
Michael Garlick, 768: “Matt. 23:27: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.”
Lucy Kiganda, 833: “IT'S NOT ENOUGH THAT OUR CHILDREN ARE EXPOSED TO THE PEDOPHILES OF THIS WORLD, NOW THEY HAVE TO FACE THEM IN THE RESTROOMS AND LOCKERROOOMS! HOW PREPOSTEROUS!”
David John, 991: “This is shame wellcame evil in America bye bye God and son and h spirit, What next patition man or women to marry pets”
John Fulayter, 1006: “To applease's the transgender, is to undermine's the well-being of public's mentality & pshyical show how the bill or in any form cannot encourage the harmony but put it backwards to wondering why we only have more dysfunctional problem to fix's. Please do not allow this bill back fired the public safety.”