Transgender students in SC should use bathrooms that match sex at birth, lawmakers say

Transgender students in South Carolina may soon be prohibited from using bath, locker or changing rooms that align with their gender identity.

Three members of the conservative S.C. House Freedom Caucus filed a measure ahead of next year’s session that would block transgender public school students from using bathrooms and facilities — such as locker rooms, shower rooms, changing rooms and other sex-segregated spaces that differ from their sex at birth. Public schools that violate the proposal could be sued within two years by non-transgender students who claim privacy transgressions that lead to psychological, emotional or physical harm.

“This is common sense legislation — boys are boys, girls are girls, and you have to use the bathroom and locker room that lines up with your gender,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. April Cromer, R-Anderson. “This bill isn’t aimed to punish a group that is clearly struggling with their mental health. It is to protect young girls from sharing a locker room with their fully grown male coach, which we saw in Pennsylvania.”

Cromer is referring to a story reported by the Epoch Times in August involving a high school tennis coach who identifies as a transgender woman, and who stripped down to her underwear in a locker room occupied by several female students. Despite the coach’s gender identity, students reported that it was clear from what they saw that the coach was still fully a man.

“We have lost our way when we start catering to a crazy instead of protecting the innocence of our children,” said state Rep. Melissa Oremus, R-Aiken, a co-sponsor of the bill. “The left is all about safe spaces, well a bathroom should be one of them.”

But transgender advocates say the bill could have a reverse effect when it comes to who’s being protected.

“Transgender students are a part of our school communities, and like other students, they’re there to learn,” said Jace Woodrum, director of the South Carolina ACLU, who identifies as a transgender man. “They need to be able to use the restroom, the locker room that matches the gender they live every day without being singled out for discrimination and harassment. And to be quite honest, forcing transgender students into restrooms that don’t match their gender identity puts their safety at risk.

“School policies should protect students from bullying. They shouldn’t promote it, but the Freedom Caucus appears quite proud to bully transgender students,” Woodrum added

Under the proposal, every public school restroom and changing facility that is accessible by multiple students at the same time must be designated for use only by members of the same biological sex.

School officials would be responsible for ensuring those facilities offer privacy protections from members of the opposite sex, and failing to do so could result in a lawsuit against the school.

Currently, South Carolina law does not require school districts to force transgender students to use bathrooms that are of their sex at birth.

As result, state Rep. Ashley Trantham, R-Greenville, said she recently received a phone call from a concerned grandmother, who learned that her middle school granddaughter had encountered a biological male while using the bathroom.

“Basically, she was told (by the school) that it is what it is,” Trantham said.

Trantham added she has since shared the concerns she’s heard from other parents with the Greenville County Schools.

“None of us are sitting around thinking that this is happening rampantly, but good gosh, if it was your daughter and it happened only one time, that’s enough for us as a state to step and try to eliminate any situation that could occur,” Trantham said.

In 2022, Trantham was the lead sponsor of the Save Womens’ sports act, a now-law that prohibits transgender females from participating on females’ teams.

In addition to bath, locker and changing rooms, transgender students would not be allowed to share a bedroom with a member of the opposite sex during any overnight public school activity or event where students share lodging, unless the people of the opposite sex in the same room are members of the same family.

The proposed bill has exceptions for medical emergencies, natural disasters, or custodians or maintenance personnel working in a bathroom or locker room when it’s not occupied by a member of the opposite sex.

Transgender students who are unwilling or unable to use a facility designated by their biological sex may use alternative facilities, such as single-user or employee restrooms, at the discretion of the school’s administration, according to the bill.

“Throughout South Carolina we are hearing the calls from citizens to protect our innocent young people,” Cromer said. “It’s time for us to step up, stop bowing down to woke corporations and lobbyists, and take a strong stance to protect the children of South Carolina.”

Leave a Comment