Initiative to regulate Anchorage bathrooms likely to appear on ballot

A sign hangs outside a bathroom in Montreal on Feb. 25, 2017.
A sign hangs outside a bathroom in Montreal on Feb. 25, 2017. (Public domain photo by Exile on Ontario St)

A controversial proposal on sex, gender and bathrooms looks likely to go before Anchorage voters next spring.

The measure seeks to regulate bathrooms, locker rooms and other so-called “intimate spaces” on the basis of biological sex rather than gender identity. The Alaska Family Council, which calls itself a public policy ministry that stands for conservative values, wrote in a release today that supporters submitted nearly 8,500 signatures to the municipal Clerk’s Office Thursday morning. The initiative needs 5,754 signatures from qualified Anchorage voters to appear on the city-wide ballot in April.

The measure has already sparked controversy and an opposition campaign among those who say it would discriminate against transgender residents. Proponents of the measure say it protects privacy and religious freedom to define who is allowed into areas like changing rooms.

If it passes, the proposition would require municipal bathrooms designate use by a person’s biological sex as defined on a birth certificate, and delete current language in city code that lets a person use facilities consistent with gender identity. It would also recognize gender as being permanently defined by a person’s assigned sex at birth and allow for employers like businesses and churches to use similar criteria in regulating their own bathrooms.

The municipal clerk’s office has 10 days to determine whether the petition has enough valid signatures to be certified.

A coalition of groups called Fair Anchorage that is opposed to the measure plans on mounting a public education campaign over the next several months.

Alaska Public Media

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