ANCHORAGE, Alaska Several supporters of Proposition 1, nicknamed "The Bathroom Bill", went before the Anchorage School Board Monday evening to voice their opinions about the controversial measure that voters will decide April 3rd, and why they feel it's needed to protect children.
"Disagreement is not hatred, truth is not hate speech, and biology, at the risk of sounding trite, is not bigotry" said Kim Minnery, one of the main backers of Prop 1. Minnery added "my view as a woman that I don't want to be in a state of undress where a biological man has been invited in, that does not make me a bigot."
Proposition 1 would change city code to require facilities like locker rooms, showers, changing rooms and bathrooms within municipal buildings to be designated for people of the same sex, which would be the persons gender at birth.
Backers of the proposal say it would also give private businesses and faith based groups, such as churches and ministries, the freedom to operate according to their convictions and segregate intimate spaces based on biological sex as determined at birth.
Opponents of the proposition, such as the group called Fair Anchorage, say "a vocal minority is singling out our transgender neighbors, family and friends by forcing a discriminatory initiative."
Monday evening, parent Talia Cannon told the school board that accusations of bigotry against supporters of Prop 1 are untrue. " I am black female" Cannon said, " I know what it's like to be discriminated against and have people judge you for no reason, and I'm speaking from my heart to say that we are not hateful, we are not bigoted. Prop 1 is about protecting our children."
Cannon told board members she has four daughters. "I want them to respect people, regardless of what they look like regardless as what they identify as, but I want them to remain protected. This is about protecting our children."
But an ASD teacher also commented to the school board Monday evening, expressing concerns about the potential impacts of Proposition 1. Jessica Minguez advocated for "allowing transgender students to use the bathroom that they best identify with, not because the wind is blowing from the east or the west and it changes from day to day, but because they've agonized over an important decision in their life." Minguez added "I believe that right to not be bullied or abused in a bathroom, where incidents have been recorded to happen, is at least equal to people, other students who might be uncomfortable. It's new, we all have to evolve."
Judy Eledge, a long-time educational consultant for several school districts, and supporter of Prop 1, posed questions to the Anchorage School Board members to consider. "How uncomfortable do you think a young boy or girl in middle school in puberty might feel in the state of undress when a person of the opposite sex walks into the locker room?" Eledge asked. "How do you think a young student, teacher or other employee might feel when their deeply held religious beliefs are said to be bigoted or discriminatory?"
Anchorage School Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop addressed Prop 1 and current school system policies in comments she made to the school board on Feb. 20th.
Bishop said current policies within the Anchorage School District for transgender students have worked and they have not had any problems in the past. "We do have transgender policies, which isn't only for restroom use. It's about much more. And certainly as a school district, if the community passes any kind of regulation or statute law, we are going to follow it," said Bishop.
Bishop said bathroom policies for transgender students are determined based on the individual's needs on the school level with the student and their family. She also said the schools would have no way to enforce a law requiring students to use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth.
The proposition is among 12 to appear on the 2018 Anchorage municipal ballot. The municipal election is a vote by mail election, the last day for the mail-in election is April 3rd.