The bill was signed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Friday after it was passed by all 3 major political parties (Democratic, Republican, and Vermont Progressives) in the state. The law applies to schools, businesses, public buildingas and other public accomodations.
Lawmakers in Vermont are hoping that the new law will serve as a model for the rest of the United States.
“Vermont has a well-earned reputation for embracing equality and being inclusive,” Scott said as he signed the bill into law at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier.
“Two years ago, when I was running for governor, I was asked in a debate whether I would support gender neutral bathrooms in public places or not,” Scott said. “I responded with a one word answer, a simple yes. Because to me it was just that simple. And now two years later I am honored to be able to sign that legislation into law today.”
“For trans people and gender non-conforming individuals, it provides safe public accommodations,” said Senator Becca Ballint (D), who originally brought the bill to the Senate floor.
“Too many states are passing ‘bathroom bills’ that move in the wrong direction, discriminating against LGBTQIA individuals and forcing schoolchildren to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender at birth, not their chosen gender identity,” said House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D) also said in a statement. “In a time where LBGTQIA rights are being rolled back on the federal level, when the Trump administration isn’t protecting children, it is our duty to step in.”
Nathan DeGroot, a Montpelier High School student, spoke with the Associated Press and said it that it took 15 months after coming out as transgender before he was comfortable entering a men’s restroom. “There are people in this room who purposefully do not drink more than a certain amount during the day just so they don’t have to validate their entire existence every time they need to do the most natural thing in the world,” DeGroot said. He also added that he sees the new law as the beginning of larger push for transgender inclusive facilities.
The new law in Vermont goes into effect on July 1st.
Watch the bill signing ceremony below: