South Carolina senators took no action Thursday on a proposal that would require Berkeley County students to use bathrooms based on the gender listed on their birth certificate.
State Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, is sponsor of the legislation, which was in response to the county school district announcing last month it would allow transgender students to use their bathroom with which they identify. The Obama Administration also announced an executive order last week that requires school districts to offer the choice for students or risk losing federal education funds.
But senators voted to end their daily session Thursday once it came up on the agenda, adjourning for the week in a 20-15 vote.
State Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, said the legislation will be held over until next week until after the Berkeley County school board meets Monday. “I’ve been asked by the business community and some people involved in the education community if we could carry this over until Tuesday,” Courson said Thursday.
State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman and state Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt were among those asking the Senate put off the vote for the week. There are concerns that Senate approval of the legislation could mean the entire state will lose nearly $900 million in federal education funding for not complying with President Obama’s executive order.
“This issue is being forced on us now as a local legislation that has statewide implications,” said opponent State Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg.
The legislation opens up a new front in the battle over transgender restroom or shower usage in public spaces. An effort by some Republicans to prevent towns from passing pro-transgender ordinances (similar to North Carolina’s HB2 that has gotten national attention) failed to pass the Senate General Committee last month.