Alabama's transgender bathroom law is in full effect. However, according to State Board of Education vice president Wayne Reynolds, local school boards are responsible for the law's enforcement.
In April, the Alabama Legislature passed House Bill 322 (HB322), which requires public K-12 schools to designate the use of rooms where students may be in various stages of undress on the basis of biological sex. The prohibition applies to bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, locker rooms or any other facility that is limited by gender.
The bill also contained a measure that banned teachings on gender identity and sexual orientation that are not "age appropriate."
The state Board of Education adopted the law with added stipulations for punishment for teachers who violation it.
According to Reynolds, individual school boards will be responsible for ensuring the rules are followed and dole out punishments as necessary.
"If you read In the change in the administrative code, the primary responsibility is now, and should be local school boards," Reynolds said. "And if they lack compliance, the next level of action happens at the state level. We set administrative codes, and local school boards are required to enforce it."
While the term "age-appropriate" may seem to some to be ambiguous, Reynolds says that the determination of age-appropriate also comes down to local school boards. He also noted that veering from the approved curriculum could constitute a violation in and of itself.
"If there are only conflicts about that, appeals can be brought to the state school board," Reynolds said. "Our language is as specific as we choose to make it because we still believe in local control. … I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it. So, we kind of rely on local school boards in terms of age-appropriate to know it when they see it."
The new rules also allow for disciplinary action against teachers who violate the law on gender identity and sexual orientation. Any teacher who violates this could be subject to termination, license revocation, being placed on leave or not having their contract renewed.
While the bill does not explicitly say that the same disciplinary actions could be levied against a teacher who violates the bathroom law, Reynolds says it applies to both.
Teachers who receive disciplinary action must be reported to the State Superintendent of Education.
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