Abele weighs in on transgender bathroom issue

County executive sets policy for his office

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Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele today weighed in on the national debate over transgender individuals’ use of public restrooms by setting a policy for his office.

Chris Abele

The county executive’s office encourages individuals to use the restroom in which they feel comfortable, his statement says, and Abele hopes to set a similar policy for other county facilities.

The policy for the county executive’s office was set in response to North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which mandates individuals use the restroom that corresponds to their birth gender. A similar proposal is being floated in Wisconsin. Supporters of the legislation say it protects children, while opponents say it discriminates against transgender individuals.

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“I want Milwaukee County to be a welcoming place for everyone, regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, religion or what gender they identify with,” Abele said in a statement. “Passing laws about who can use which bathroom is not only a mean-spirited and discriminatory intrusion on the rights of transgender individuals to fully participate in society, it is a tremendous waste of time and energy. That is why, as of today, the restrooms in my office are gender neutral. I want everyone who visits the county executive’s office to feel comfortable.”

The Obama administration issued guidance last month directing public schools to allow transgender students to use whichever bathroom matches their gender identity. Wisconsin is one of 10 states suing the White House over the guidelines.

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