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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Pacific NW

Complaints but no fines under Seattle’s gender restroom law

Associated Press

SEATTLE – The city of Seattle has received over 70 reports of businesses not complying with its new all-gender restroom ordinance since officials began enforcing it in March.

The reports have been made by 33 people, some of whom made multiple reports. No businesses have been fined, but letters have been sent advising owners to change their signs and to provide evidence they did so, The Seattle Times reported.

Passed in 2015 by the Seattle City Council and Mayor Ed Murray, the ordinance prohibits gender-specific, single-occupant restrooms in city facilities and public establishments such as bars, restaurants, stadiums, chain stores and hotels.

Those establishments must also provide signs specifying that their single-occupant restrooms are meant to be used by people of all genders.

The goal, according to the Seattle Office of Civil Rights, is to improve restroom access for transgender individuals and people who consider themselves neither exclusively male nor female.

Seattle trans-rights activist Danni Askini, executive director of the Gender Justice League, said the ordinance has had a positive effect on transgender and gender-nonconforming people in feeling safe. She said her organization hasn’t had any recent reports of people harassed while trying to use restrooms.

The office’s enforcement for now is complaint-based and the civil-rights office tries to help business comply with the ordinance, according to Mike Chin, an enforcement manager.

The civil-rights office had received 73 reports, as of last week, and had resolved 57. Three of those were resolved before advisory letters were sent, 42 after sending advisory letters and six through the violation process. Six reports had been dismissed for lacking jurisdiction or information.

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