Louisiana governor poised to sign stringent transgender bathroom bill

The Louisiana House and Senate became the latest state legislature to pass a bill aimed at transgender restroom policies, as it approved HB 608 on Friday and sent it to Republican Gov. Jeff Landry’s desk.

The bill, dubbed the “Women’s Safety and Protection Act,” aimed to codify the meanings of “sex,” “male” and “female” in state law, while mandating what sponsors described as protection of women who may be targeted by biological males who elect to use female facilities, including restrooms, prisons and dormitories.

“The legislature finds and declares that physical differences between men and women, however, are enduring, the two sexes are not fungible; a community made up exclusively of one [sex] is different from a community composed of both,” an excerpt of the bill’s text read.

Proponents also wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court recognized through U.S. v. Virginia that there are inherent differences between men and women, and that they remain “cause for celebration, but not for denigration of the members of either sex.” The bill also cites the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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While Landry’s office did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment, while serving as the state’s attorney general in 2016, Landry pushed back hard against then-President Obama’s scholastic bathroom-related Title IX interpretation.

“Let me be perfectly clear. President Obama and his appointees do not have legal authority to require our children to share locker rooms and bathrooms with children of the opposite sex,” Landry said at the time, WBRZ reported.

Before the bill hit the House floor in Baton Rouge in April, LGBTQ+ advocates criticized it as one of the most restrictive draft policies in the U.S., while claiming it could increase the vulnerability of the transgender community.

Around the same time, Louisiana’s top state education official instructed schools in the Pelican State to ignore Biden administration changes to federal Title IX protections on the gender identity front, according to The Hill.

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Louisiana Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley wrote in a letter to school officials that the federal adjustment conflicts with established state law instructing student-athletes to compete on teams determined by their biological sex.

Brumley and Landry launched a lawsuit against the Biden administration on that front in late April. 

During a press conference, Landry said he wished he could identify as legendary NBA center Shaquille O’Neal in order to try out for Louisiana State University’s basketball team but would be “laughed off the court,” according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

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On April 11, the bill originally passed the State House 80-17 after being drafted by State Rep. Roger Wilder III of Denham Springs.

The likelihood of the bill becoming law illustrates the major shift felt in Louisiana as, in January, the Republican Landry succeeded former Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who vetoed three related bills in 2023. 

Among the bills Bel Edwards had vetoed included a “pronoun restriction bill,” transgender surgery restrictions, and a version of a policy forwarded in Florida by Gov. Ron DeSantis that critics dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. 

Bel Edwards had been the only Democratic governor in the heavily-Republican Deep South, with the next closest geographically being North Carolina’s Roy Cooper.

In a veto message at the time, Bel Edwards called the trio of GOP-led bills harmful to “a very small minority, who happen to be comprised of the most vulnerable, fragile, children in our state.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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