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Bathroom bill would charge people with misdemeanor if in restroom not belonging to their sex at birth

The bill, if made into law, would impact public places that have restrooms and changing rooms.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A bill that would limit which public restroom people can use is now headed to the Florida Senate after it passed the House.

House Bill 1521, would require people to use restrooms and changing facilities to based on their assigned sex at birth, not their gender identity. Violators would risk getting a second degree misdemeanor if they're in the restroom of the opposite sex. People in the LGBTQ+ community, including who are transgender say they are being unfairly targeted. 

Ravyn, a transgender woman in Jacksonville, feels likes Florida lawmakers are not protecting her. Instead, she believes they are vilifying her because of her gender identity. 

"We're going back in time versus going forward," Ravyn said. "It makes me angry. We've come too far in order to be going straight back." 

Legislators across the country, including Florida, have passed many bills that impact the LGBTQ+ community. According to the Trans-Legislation tracker, in 2023, there have been just under 500 bills filed in all but one state. That makes this the fourth consecutive record-breaking year for the number of anti-transgender bills in the US. This bill in particular, HB1521, would prohibit people like Rayvn from using the restroom based on her gender identity. She would have to use the restroom based on her sex at birth. 

People that don't fit in deserve to be respected and protected as well, Rayvn said. 

The bill, if made into law, would impact public places that have restrooms and changing rooms. That includes schools, shelters, restaurants and bars. Violators would risk getting a second-degree misdemeanor if one refused orders to leave and it is determined you are in the wrong room. Representative Dean Black co-introduced the bill and sent First Coast News the following:

“House Bill 1521 seeks to promote safety and privacy in public restrooms by ensuring that individuals use restrooms based on their biological sex. Public establishments are required to have a restroom designated for males and females or a unisex single-person restroom. This bill will also make it a second-degree misdemeanor for an adult to willfully enter a restroom of the opposite sex with common-sense exceptions like emergencies, law enforcement, or a parent assisting their child.”

Jacksonville attorney Rusty Mead, believes the kind of law would be difficult to enforce. He said enforcement would be debatable because police would need to witness the crime actually happening. 

"However it does give cart Blanche (a blank check) to just anybody to complain. That's what concerns me, especially with people who are in vulnerable positions. We're talking bathrooms and dress room facilities," Mead said. 

As for Rayvn, she said her only intention is to use the restroom and then leave. She said if I'm doing anything else, I shouldn't be in there. Neither should anybody else. 

HB 1521 passed the house with 80 lawmakers voting YEA and 37 voting NAY. Nothing has happened with the senate bill, yet. First Coast News will track its progress in the senate. 

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