- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - All single-person bathrooms in California would become gender-neutral under legislation proposed in the state Legislature.

Assemblyman Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat, says his bill would make bathroom access more convenient and fair for everyone.

“What we really want to do is have bathrooms be what they’re supposed to be about, which is convenience, but also have them be about fairness and safety,” Ting said Friday.

AB1732 would help transgender people, parents with children of different genders, and adults caring for aging parents without putting much of a burden on businesses, Ting said. The bill would not affect restrooms that have multiple stalls.

Ting acknowledged that his bill would prevent businesses with single-person restrooms from maintaining separate - cleaner - spaces for women to avoid the messier habits of men.

“Like many women, I don’t like using restroom that other men use either,” Ting said. “I would hope that we can all evolve, and adapt and be better community residents and be cleaner in the restroom.”

Kris Hayashi of the Transgender Law Center praised the bill in a statement.

“This law will make life easier for everyone and reduce the harassment regularly experienced by transgender people and others who don’t match people’s stereotypes of what it looks like to be a man or a woman,” Hayashi said.

Tom Scott, California director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the proliferation of new legislative mandates makes it harder for businesses to succeed and distracts the Legislature from more important issues.

“This piling-on effect is not making California’s business climate any better,” Scott said.

Similar bills were introduced last year in Vermont and New York, but neither has advanced beyond a committee.

Ting’s office says the cities of Oakland, Denver, Boston and Philadelphia have adopted similar rules.

In California, advocacy groups proposed a ballot measure that sought to require transgender people to use the public restrooms that correspond with their biological sex. The groups said last month that they failed to collect enough signatures to place the question on the California ballot.

Robert Thomasson of the advocacy group SaveCalifornia.com, which opposes the bill by Ting, said it’s unnecessary and offensive.

“It’s not just about quote-unquote fairness, it’s about pushing different values, different ideals in the faces of people,” Thomasson said. “So that necessarily causes conflict.”

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