A new bathroom law is being viewed as a significant step forward in the state of Vermont. Governor Phil Scott signed bill H.333, which requires all single-user restrooms in public buildings or those that accommodate the public to be gender-neutral.
The law will take effect on July 1, at which point any single-user bathroom will be free to be accessed by anyone, regardless of sex or gender.
“Every Vermonter will now have more opportunity to be able to use a bathroom,” Brenda Churchill, the Statehouse liaison for the LGBTQIA Alliance of Vermont, told local Seven Days magazine.
Governor Scott touted the law as being emblematic of his state’s progressive and equality-focused stance on gender issues.
“Vermont has a well-earned reputation for embracing equality and being inclusive,” Scott said when he signed the bill on Friday.
Vermont is one of just 19 states and Washington, D.C. to recognize gender identity as a protected class.
The law provides greater comfort for people, including transgender residents, who need to use public bathroom facilities.
“”I’ve heard heartbreaking stories of children afraid to use the restroom at school and Vermonters unable to find accommodation in public places,” House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D) said.
High school student Nathan DeGroot backed that up, saying, “There are people in this room who purposefully do not drink more than a certain amount during the day just so they don’t have to validate their entire existence every time they need to do the most natural thing in the world.”
Additionally, the law provides freedom for everyone to use whichever single occupancy bathroom they want, instead of being restricted to wait on line for one marked for only men or women.
“Think of it this way,” Churchill said, “There’s more security now for people to find a place to go to the bathroom … we all have a basic need, and this is just the opportunity for everybody to take care of business.”
[Image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images]