Republicans defend Wisconsin bill restricting transgender bathroom use

MADISON, WI (AP) – The national debate over how to accommodate transgender students in public schools has been playing out today in a Wisconsin state Assembly hearing.

At issue is a bill that would make Wisconsin the first state in the nation to prohibit transgender public school students from using the bathroom or locker room assigned to the gender with which they identify.

One of the sponsors, Republican Rep. Jesse Kremer, disagrees with opponents who say it would violate federal law. He says it instead protects the privacy and safety of all students.

Dozens of students packed the hearing room in opposition to the bill.

A 15-year-old transgender student, Leland Hilliard, said he prefers to use an all-gender bathroom at his Madison high school — but that wouldn’t be allowed under the proposal.

Similar measures were defeated earlier this year in Minnesota and Nevada, while other states such as California and Massachusetts are moving in the opposite direction and requiring schools to permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on the student’s gender identity.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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