Schools and businesses have been told to allow people to use whichever bathroom is consistent with their “gender expression or gender identity”, in the US state of Washington.
The rule is reportedly the first to apply across an entire state, and has quickly come under fire.
A Senator said parents would be unhappy with the arrangements at schools, while another politician commented that the change had been introduced in an undemocratic fashion.
The Washington State Human Rights Commission drew up the rule, as it is responsible for administering and enforcing a state law on discrimination.
The Executive Director of the Commission and a lawyer for a LGBT campaign group claimed the policy clarifies law that is already in place.
The policy says that if someone “expresses concern or discomfort” about the change, then “the person expressing discomfort should be directed to a separate or gender-neutral facility, if available”.
Republican Representative Graham Hunt said there had been a public outcry with people asking, “how is it that their rights trump my rights”?
Criticising the Commission, he said: “They’re making decisions that widely affect the public although they’re not elected and held accountable to the public in the same fashion.”
Senator Doug Ericksen commented: “Parents have a right to expect that when their children go to school, the boys will use the boys’ locker room and the girls will use the girls’ locker room”.
He stated that he would be working with concerned Democrats and Republicans to “correct this misguided policy”.
Last year a law allowing men to use women’s bathrooms was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in Houston, Texas.
Houstonians voted against it by 61 per cent to 39 per cent. President Obama, Hillary Clinton and major companies such as Apple had backed the ordinance.
Campaign for Houston, which worked to oppose the measure, said the result was a victory for “common decency and common sense”.