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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Bathroom Exception to be Added to Non-Discrimination Proposal

Scott Harvey

A non-discrimination ordinance before Springfield City Council next week expanding protections to LGBT persons will now include a bathroom exception.

The city said Monday that council members Cindy Rushefsky and Craig Hosmer have requested the Law Department to craft an amendment to their bill, prohibiting the ordinance from applying to any facility that is “distinctly private in nature, such as restrooms, shower rooms, and dressing rooms.”

The revision, if approved, would prevent a person from claiming discrimination if prohibited from using these private facilities.

The issue of transgender use of restrooms came up repeatedly by opponents of the ordinance during public testimony last month. One man claimed passage would lead to instances where “children are traumatized” by men dressed in women's clothing using women's restrooms. A mother expressed fear that protections for public accommodations would open the door for sexual predators to pose as transgendered individuals. Some proponents of the bill at that meeting noticeably scoffed at such notions.

The bathroom exception will be added to the stronger of two bills up for consideration at Monday’s council meeting. That bill calls for expanding sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations. The substitute bill would offer protections in housing only.

According to the city, since the potential bathroom amendment is not considered as substantive by the Law Department, City Council could choose to vote on the entire bill at the Oct. 13 meeting. Citizens will be allowed to speak to the amendment only, prior to the vote on the entire bill.

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