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Alabama’s ‘Bathroom Bill’ Would Require Attendants in Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Alabama Privacy Act
Brynn Anderson/AP

Public places that don’t provide attendants could be fined and sued for damages.

While several conservative states are preparing "bathroom bills" for the upcoming legislative session, Alabama's anti-LGBT bill is changing the game by requiring costly bathroom attendants.

The bill, prefiled by Alabama Sen. Phil Williams, is called the "Alabama Privacy Act." If passed, the bill would require public places with bathrooms or changing rooms to have single-person rooms, rooms for multiple people of the same gender, or rooms for people "irrespective of their gender" staffed by a bathroom attendant.

If a public place fails to provide these options, a fine of $2,000 will be imposed for the first violation, increased to $3,500 for each violation afterward.

The bill's language is odd for several reasons. First, the bill does nothing to define what "gender" means--something that other conservative legislatures have taken great pains to do in opposition of the transgender community. Second, it's not entirely clear what purpose a bathroom attendant would serve in gender-neutral bathrooms. The bill says they would "monitor the use of the restroom and answer any questions or concerns posed by users."

When dealing with LGBT rights, Alabama has a strange history, even among conservative states. After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, the legislature made several attempts to circumvent civil marriage all together, freeing probate judges from having officiate marriages at all. In fact, a handful of Alabama counties still refuse to officiate any marriage licenses whatsoever for any couple, straight or gay.

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