By Daniel Stefanski |
A top Arizona lawmaker is frustrated with the lack of media coverage on his Democrat colleagues’ partisan votes and is highlighting the issue to make people more aware – especially when it comes to a bill dealing with clear divisions in school restrooms.
Senate President Warren Petersen recently posted on social media: “We recently passed a bill out of the senate that said no boys in girls showers. All the democrats voted no. One of the democrats suggested we put up shower curtains as a solution. Zero coverage by the media. Lots of bills like that all the time. Zero coverage by the media.”
The bill that President Petersen was referring to is SB 1040, sponsored by Senator John Kavanagh, which deals with reasonable accommodations for restrooms in public schools. Kavanagh’s legislation, designated as the Arizona Accommodations for All Children Act, “requires a public school to provide access to a single-occupancy or employee restroom or changing facility to a person who is unwilling or unable to use a multi-occupancy restroom or changing facility designated for the person’s sex or multi-occupancy sleeping quarters,” according to the purpose of the bill provided by the State Senate.
Late last month, SB 1040 passed the State Senate with a 16-14 vote along party lines. All Republicans voted in favor, while all Democrats voted against the bill.
After the vote, the Arizona Senate Republican Caucus tweeted, “JUST IN: Senate Republicans voted to keep males out of female showers, locker rooms and bathrooms at public schools. We believe in protecting Arizona’s children! Every Senate Dem voted against the measure. Senator Marsh’s solution was to ‘buy shower curtains.’
Senator Wendy Rogers followed that message with one of her own after voting in favor of SB 1040: “No brainer. Unbelievable that we have to pass a law to keep males out of the Ladies Room.”
In a legislative update from Senator J.D. Mesnard on March 6, which addressed his vote on SB 1040, he wrote: “This was a pretty commonsense notion, until recent times, when a radical ideology – based on the concept of gender identity – started taking hold. The bill respects the bodily privacy rights of children, who should not be forced to share such an intimate setting with someone of the opposite sex, while also providing reasonable accommodations to those who wish to identify as the opposite sex. Sex-separated spaces have never been about how one identifies – it doesn’t make any sense. Despite all Senate Democrats voting against the measure, it passed with Republican support and heads to the House.”
As SB 1040 made its way through the Senate committee process, the Arizona Senate Democrats Caucus listed the legislation as one of its “Bad Bills.
Certain Arizona interest groups were strongly opposed to the bill’s clearance from the Senate. HRC (Human Rights Campaign) in Arizona tweeted, “Bans trans students and teachers from using school restrooms that match their gender identity and allows people to sue schools if they share a restroom or similar school facility with a trans person.”
The Progress Arizona Twitter account wrote, “SB 1040 is yet another dangerous bill that prohibits transgender students and teachers from using public school restrooms. The GOP Senate Education Committee members advanced the bill forward yesterday, despite the expectation that it’ll be vetoed.
Senator Kavanagh’s legislation was transmitted to the Arizona House, where it is expected to be considered and brought to the floor in the near future. If it is approved by the House, the bill has no chance at being signed into law by Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs, who alluded as much in a tweet on International Women’s Day.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.