SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — One bill gaining traction in the Illinois General Assembly would allow Illinois businesses to have multi-stall gender neutral bathrooms.
Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville) is the sponsor of the bill.
“It creates the opportunity for places businesses, universities, you name it, to create a multi-stall gender-neutral restroom if they so choose,” she said, presenting the bill to the House Human Services Committee on Wednesday. “And it lays out requirements for what is in that facility. Locking mechanisms for privacy, disposal for menstrual products, all those types of things that we need to have in restrooms.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health would also be consulted about space needed between bathrooms and other standards.
Illinois has required all single-occupancy bathrooms, defined as a room that can be locked with only one sink, toilet stall and urinal, in public buildings to be designated for all genders since 2020.
Republicans did not support the bill, worrying public spaces would have to spend more money for creating bathrooms.
“I’m looking at thinking of a large arenas where you’ve got peoples back high and low,” Rep. Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) said. “You only have so much space. A lot of people will not want to go into an all-gender restroom, and you won’t have no space.”
Stuart reminded Meier that businesses can simply not choose to create gender-neutral bathrooms.
The bill passed the committee 6-3 with all Democrats voting for the bill, and all Republicans voting against. A similar version of this bill passed the Illinois House of Representatives back in 2021 but did not pass the Senate before the end of session.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association says the legislation is important for businesses across the state, as many retailers already have instituted a policy for gender-neutral bathrooms.
“Importantly, the legislation is not a mandate but is permissive, meaning retailers have a choice whether to implement it or not,” Rob Karr, CEO of IRMA said. “Retailers must have the flexibility to make decisions based on what is best for their individual circumstances.”
Other groups, including Planned Parenthood Illinois Action and Equality Illinois have signaled their support for the bill, but the bill is racking up witness slips against the idea, mostly filed by people representing themselves.