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Berkeley County schools bathroom bill stalls in Senate, for now

Senator Larry Grooms.

A bill that will reverse a Berkeley County Schools decision on transgender bathroom use stalled in the Senate Thursday.

The senate hearing adjourned Thursday without voting on a third reading that would have sent the bill to the House.

Sen. Larry Grooms, who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Paul Campbell, accused the senate of playing politics with just a week to go before the legislative session ends.

"Ultimately, a majority of the Senate voted to adjourn to prevent me from voting on this piece of legislation," said Grooms.

A couple weeks ago, the Berkeley County School District decided to allow transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms, based on the gender they identify with.

The bill would force the district next year to make transgender students use faculty bathrooms with the school's permission, which is the current policy among South Carolina schools.

The Berkeley County School Board is expected to discuss the issue again on Monday.

Last week, the White House advised schools to allow students to use the bathrooms matching their gender identity. Grooms said he's not discriminating and blames popular politics for the school district's decision.

"We have a president that wanted to change policy in South Carolina and we have a school district to abandon where we were to try and embrace his vision of where we want to be," said Grooms. "That's what's changed and I want to go back to where we were."

Grooms said transgender students should continue to use faculty bathrooms with their school's permission. Melissa Moore, LGBT advocate and Executive Director of We are Family said reversing the district's decision is taking a step back.

"It really isn't an issue," said Moore. "They're making a problem where there really isn't a problem."

Grooms acknowledges there's no evidence that indicates transgender students choosing their own bathroom is a safety issue. Moore said the bill is sending the wrong message to kids.

"It's telling transgendered kids their safety doesn't matter, that they come second, that their safety doesn't matter and you're telling other kids it's okay to pick on transgendered kids," said Moore.

The Senate will revisit the issue on Tuesday.

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