‘Potty police:’ Florida bill restricting restroom use to biological sex clears first hurdle

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — “Potty police:” That’s how a Florida lawmaker described a bill approved by its first Senate committee Thursday morning.


The bill seeks to prevent Floridians from using bathrooms inconsistent with their biological sex in public establishments like restaurants, entertainment venues, schools, health care facilities and sports venues.

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“Some of the calls I got said, are you really instituting a potty police?” Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) said.

Questions of enforcement dominated much of the bill’s first hearing.

So too did concerns from transgender individuals who fear the legislation puts them at risk of violence and harassment.

“For the females on this board, do you want me in the women’s restroom with you? Because if this bill passes, you’ll be requiring transmen like me to use the women’s restroom or face criminal punishment,” Caleb Hobson Garcia, a transgender man who testified during the hearing, said.

The bill requires public establishments to either have designated male and female restrooms or single stall unisex options.

Failure to comply would carry with it a fine up to $10,000.

Related Story: Florida lawmakers move forward on state transgender bathroom ban bills

According to the bill sponsor, any person would be able to ask another person to leave a restroom if they believe they’re in the wrong one.

If the accused person is in violation and doesn’t leave immediately, they could face up to 60 days in jail or a maximum fine of $500.

Minors using the wrong restrooms at schools would face disciplinary action for using the wrong restroom under the legislation.

Supports of the policy argued at least one study showed transgender bathroom policies pose an increased risk to women.

“There was a threefold increase in peeping tom incidents at Target stores after they implemented a policy that allowed men essentially to use women’s bathrooms,” John Labriola with the Christian Family Coalition said.

Democrats on the committee pointed out the study didn’t identify whether the perpetrators of those incidents were transgender or not.

In her close, the bill sponsor acknowledged there are changes that need to be made to the legislation moving forward, to ensure the policy is clear and doesn’t create vigilante ‘potty police’.

“At the end of the day, there are just places where we should be comfortable to do the business that needs to be done in those spaces,” Senator Erin Grall (R-For Pierce) said.

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In addition to the bathroom language, the bill also covers changing facilities, requires domestic violence shelters to provide separate overnight accommodations based on biological sex in most cases and correctional institutions to house biological males and females separately.

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