'This is woke': Illinois State Senate passes bill expanding gender-neutral bathrooms, igniting fiery debate

The Illinois State Senate passed a bill on Thursday which would expand gender-neutral bathrooms, and it sparked a heated debate on the Senate floor.

Right now, the public gender-neutral bathrooms in Illinois are single-occupancy, meaning one person at a time. HB1286 would allow establishments to install gender-neutral bathrooms that are multi-occupancy, meaning a shared bathroom across all genders, and all gender identities.

"This is woke," said State Sen. Andrew Chesney (R-45), who voted against the bill. "This is radical. This is out of touch with everybody in my district and your districts."

The bill allows but does not mandate, gender-neutral, multi-occupancy restrooms to be installed in private and public businesses. Sponsors said it's about "inclusivity," and giving everyone a "safe and comfortable space" to use the restroom, regardless of sex or gender identity. Those opposed said it does the opposite.

"I don't want to go into a restroom where there's a man next to me, washing my hands," said state Sen. Jil Tracey (R-47).


"Why on earth would any lady want a dude in their bathroom?" asked State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-51).

Another Republican said when his 10-year-old daughter uses the restroom, he waits outside the door. 

"I'm telling you right now, if a guy walks in there, I'm going to beat the living piss out of him," he said. "So, this is going to cause violence. And it's going to cause violence from dads like me."

But supporters say the bill actually makes it easier for parents with young kids.

"This makes it easier," said the bill's sponsor, State Sen. Cristina Villanueva (D-12). "Why? Because it won't be so awkward for you going to the lady's room, or me going to the men's room."

"I have been asked about this legislation by hundreds of constituents who have written and who have called and asked that we support this legislation so that Illinois will step into the 21st century," said State Sen. Mike Simmons (D-7), another supporter.

HB 1286 is "permissive," which means it does not mandate gender-neutral bathrooms. After passing the Senate, it now heads back to the House.