Utah Legislature Passes First Anti-LGBTQ+ Bathroom Ban of the Year

by Brandon Wolf

Less Than One Month Into New Year, Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills Escalating Across the Nation

WASHINGTON — Today, the Utah House of Representatives passed HB 257 as amended, sending the bill to the desk of Governor Spencer Cox. The bill would bar transgender students from using restrooms and locker rooms that align with who they are, and restrict access to changing rooms in government owned or operated facilities for transgender people of all ages.

“This bill is an invasion of the privacy of Utahns. No student should be denied access to the bathroom that aligns with who they are. No one should fear harassment in the most private of settings. Period,” said HRC President Kelley Robinson. “Unfortunately, we are already seeing similar types of bathroom bans–bans that are reminiscent of the infamous HB2 in North Carolina–introduced across the country. These escalating national attacks on the humanity of transgender people, from assaults on medical freedom in Ohio to this assault on access to bathrooms and other facilities in Utah, are an affront to American values. The American people will not stand for this invasion into our basic freedoms; they will speak up at state legislatures across the country and, if they are ignored, at ballot boxes in November.”

Background: Utah’s HB 257 Joins Escalating Chorus of Hateful Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation

  • If signed into law, Utah’s bathroom ban would become the first piece of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that was filed, passed, and enacted all since January 1. The bill was fast-tracked through the legislature, careening from filing to final passage in just 11 days.
    • Salt Lake City municipal leaders spoke out against the bill, with city and county officials issuing a statement decrying attacks on their transgender residents. In the statement, city leaders said that “The bill contradicts our commitment to being a safe and caring place for all and undermines our State’s ambition to welcome the world and all of its diversity. We love and support the transgender community throughout Utah and will do all we can to continue to make Salt Lake City a bastion of safety and inclusion.”

  • This comes just days removed from Ohio’s state legislature overriding Governor Mike DeWine’s veto of HB 68, a law banning gender affirming care for transgender youth. That law goes into effect the final week of April.

  • To date, 2023 holds the record for the most anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation filed nationally. However, 2024 is already on pace to break that record, with dozens of states considering hundreds of bills less than one month into the year.

  • While not identical, Florida passed a similar bill into law in 2023. In 2024, we have already seen several other pieces of legislation filed that would restrict access to restrooms and similar places. In fact, so-called “bathroom bills” are among the most common types of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation filed at this time. These bills are reminiscent of HB2, which was signed into law in North Carolina in 2016, and represent a deeply concerning trend that threatens the privacy of transgender people across the country.

  • Anti-LGBTQ+ policies are deeply unpopular nationally. 64% of all likely voters think there is “too much legislation” aimed at “limiting the rights of transgender and gay people in America” — including 72% of Democrats, 65% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans.

  • Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has also been opposed broadly by the business community — more than 300 major U.S. corporations have spoken out to oppose discriminatory legislation being proposed in states across the country. Over 100 large employers have also signed onto the Count Us In pledge, which includes a commitment to ensure access to health care for their transgender and nonbinary employees.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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