- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - The Nevada Assembly rejected a bill that outraged transgender advocates and would have required students to use bathrooms corresponding to their biological sex.

Assembly members voted against AB375 on a mainly party-line, 22-20 vote on Tuesday night. Five Assembly Republicans and all Democrats voted against the measure.

The measure would require students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that corresponded to their biological sex, as well as require schools to provide separate facilities for transgender and intersex students.

The bill drew criticism from advocates who say it targets young transgender students and would open the door to lawsuits and possible discrimination. Democrats spoke out strongly against the bill before the vote, saying that it would lead to more bullying of transgender students, who face high rates of suicide.

“This bill flies in the face of everything this Legislature should stand for, and it harkens back to a time when telling people they were different was accepted,” Democratic Assemblywoman Heidi Swank said.

Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen helped bring the bill back to life before an earlier legislative deadline and said the measure would protect student privacy in sensitive places like locker rooms and bathrooms. He deflected criticism that the measure would lead to increased costs for schools that would need to build or allocate separate facilities for transgender students.

“This is a tiny, tiny portion of people we’re talking about,” he said. “The idea that this is going to be some big backbreaking thing doesn’t hold up.”

Democratic Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, a law student at Las Vegas-based Boyd School of Law, said the measure could meet legal hurdles if passed.

“This bill is a bill in search of a solution to a non-existent state problem,” he said during the hearing. “It will be litigated, and it will cost the state money.”

Republican Assembly members Pat Hickey, Derek Armstrong, Glenn Trowbridge, Robin Titus and Melissa Woodbury voted against the measure.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval spokeswoman Mari St. Martin said earlier that the governor was closely monitoring the bill and had strong concerns with legislation that “targets students based on their gender expression, or potentially sanctions discrimination.”

Tuesday marks a deadline for bills to pass out of their house of origin, meaning that the measure can’t be revived.

Hansen said the measure may end up becoming a ballot initiative and said that although the bill was defeated, he was pleased that it brought the issue forward.

“Two weeks ago this bill was dead,” he said. “Even though we were defeated today, we brought it to the attention of the state.”

Republican Assemblyman PK O’Neill voted for the bill, but he still took issue with provisions of the legislation. O’Neill said he was disappointed that elected school boards and districts didn’t take a stronger stance on the measure.

“This was not an easy vote,” he said. “The lack of input made it even more difficult.”

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