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L.A. looks to amend city ordinance to allow transgender bathroom access at parks

Edgar Lopez, a West Hollywood maintenance worker, cleans the doors to the restroom at Plummer Park last year, months before city-owned facilities and businesses were required to make single-stall restrooms gender-neutral.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In a show of support for transgender people, the Los Angeles City Council has introduced a motion aimed at amending an ordinance that would allow transgender people to use city park bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Written by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and co-written by council members Mike Bonin and Nury Martinez, the council’s action on Wednesday was the first step in expanding bathroom access rights for the transgender community in Los Angeles, beginning with park facilities.

The motion comes in observance of LGBT Heritage Month, which recognizes the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. It also comes ahead of this weekend’s annual L.A. Pride festival in West Hollywood.

“Our federal and state leaders have acted to create a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for our transgender community,” O’Farrell said. “With this motion, we will continue on Los Angeles’ progressive path of protecting those who are historically among the most marginalized in society.”

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City officials say their action was also in response to a state bill that would require single-use bathrooms in any business, public space or government agency to become gender neutral. The legislation, known as AB 1732, was introduced by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and passed in the Assembly last month. It is awaiting approval in the Senate.

According to Wednesday’s motion, the city attorney will have 60 days to review and recommend changes to a municipal code that regulates bathroom use at parks. While the focus is on the city’s park facilities, officials also directed the city attorney to review all of the city’s municipal codes for similar violations that may require changing.

“It is incredibly important that we update our laws to ensure that state and federal protection for the transgender community are enshrined in the city code,” said Bonin. “Our laws should reflect our values, and Los Angeles is a tolerant and welcoming city.”

“Our recent past has shown us how segregation created different classes of people,” said Martinez. “We need to have a discussion on how we can amend our laws in the city of Los Angeles so that we can teach future generations how to be a more respectful, caring and accepting society that does not devalue another human.”

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The motion is part of an ongoing national debate about bathroom access rights for transgender people.

Some states have proposed gender-neutral measures to address the issue such as New York and Vermont, and an ordinance was adopted by the city of West Hollywood in January.

For more Southern California news, follow @latvives


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