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Vermont House passes gender-free bathroom measure - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont House passes gender-free bathroom measure

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Vermont lawmakers voted strongly in favor of a bathroom bill, but unlike North Carolina's controversial law, this proposal grants more access, not less.

The law doesn't really alter anyone's rights, it is designed to make people-- regardless of gender or gender identity-- more at ease.

Brenda Churchill is comfortable with who she is, but that doesn't mean picking a bathroom is stress-free. 

"I still look for gender-neutral bathrooms in my travels," said Churchill. 

Vermont law already allows her to use any public bathroom that conforms with her identity.

A proposed law could open up more comfortable spaces though designating all public, single-person restrooms as usable by any gender.

"Increased access to single-occupancy restrooms increases health, comfort and physical and emotional safety for us all," said Rep. Diana Gonzalez, P-Winooski. 

Gonzalez argues such a law would benefit:

  •       Those caring for a young child of the opposite sex.
  •       A caregiver of a disabled adult of the opposite sex.
  •       Those standing in line while the other gender's restroom is open.
  •       And those perceived to be using the wrong bathroom.

"Numerous pastors in my area have contacted me with concerns," said Rep. Vicky Strong, R-Albany. 

A few lawmakers view the bill as a serious affront to religious liberty. For others, House debate devolved into bathroom humor.

"I know it's not the aim of this bill, but some guys' aim just isn't that good," said Rep. Warren Van Wyck, R-Ferrisburgh. 

"I know in my house, some people have a hard time picking up the lids," said Van Wyck.

The House voted strongly in favor of the change and Churchill is glad to be a Vermonter, especially considering the high-profile bathroom debates elsewhere.

"The nice thing is, Vermont is accepting and very open, and really does a great job in protecting its citizens," said Churchill.

In order for the proposal to become law, the Senate will have to sign off, as well.

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