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Louisiana Governor Signs Law Restricting Transgender Individuals' Use of Public Facilities

 Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signed House Bill 608 the “Women’s Safety and Protection Act” into law.
Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signed House Bill 608 the “Women’s Safety and Protection Act” into law.

BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. Jeff Landry signed a bill Wednesday requiring transgender individuals in Louisiana to use bathrooms and other public facilities that correspond with their sex assigned at birth, regardless of their gender identity.

The legislation, known as HB608, will take effect on August 1. Authored by Rep. Roger Wilder, R-Denham Springs, the bill mandates that all public schools, domestic violence shelters, and correctional facilities segregate bathrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, and sleeping quarters by sex. This law will prevent transgender individuals from using facilities that align with their gender identity.

The “Women’s Safety and Protection Act” passed with a vote of 29-10 in the Senate and 80-17 in the House.

Gov. Landry expressed his approval of the bill, emphasizing its importance for women's safety and identity. "Louisiana will not allow biological men to take advantage of opportunities for women," he stated.

Proponents of HB608 argue that the law addresses concerns over privacy and safety. "States have a duty to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of women and young girls," said Matt Sharp, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom. Sharp criticized advocacy organizations and the Biden Administration for pushing policies that he believes undermine this protection.

However, the bill has faced significant opposition. Critics argue it will harm the transgender community and exacerbate discrimination. Melissa Flournoy, chair of the Board of Louisiana Progress and a former Democratic representative, highlighted the detrimental impact on transgender individuals. "We need to recognize their humanity and open our hearts to the challenges they face," she tweeted in April.

In addition to HB608, Gov. Landry is considering two other controversial bills affecting the LGBTQ+ community. HB122, authored by Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, aims to restrict discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms, echoing similar "Don't Say Gay" laws in other states. HB121, introduced by Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, seeks to prevent public schools from adopting policies that inquire about or use pronouns and names inconsistent with a person's biological sex.

LGBTQ+ advocates and the state Democratic Party have denounced all three bills as discriminatory. Peyton Rose Michelle, executive director of Louisiana Trans Advocates, criticized the legislation for promoting unfair treatment. “Every kid deserves a fair chance to succeed in school without being singled out for discrimination and harassment,” Michelle said. “Louisiana legislators have voted in favor of unfair treatment of LGBTQ+ kids and teachers. Their actions are appalling, and kids and our communities will bear the brunt.”

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