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Indian Tribe Passes New Transgender Bathroom Policy — and Activist Group Is Left ‘Very Sad and Disappointed’


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The Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana has adopted a transgender bathroom policy akin to North Carolina’s controversial bill — and the American Civil Liberties Union in the state is none too pleased, KRTV-TV reported.

The tribal executive board approved the policy Monday, the station said, which requires bathroom use to correspond to users’ birth genders rather than their gender identities.

Image source: KNBC-TV

Image source: KNBC-TV

Councilman Ed Bauer was recorded in the meeting minutes as saying, “What people do in their bedrooms is their business. How public bathrooms are used is [my] business,” KRTV reported.

Bauer added to the station that the policy reflects the tribe’s longtime stance on the issue — and despite President Barack Obama’s directive that all U.S. public schools allow students to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identities.

“We disagreed with the president’s mandate,” Bauer told KTRV. “We don’t have trouble with it in regards to transgender or gay people. We just have a problem with male adults using bathrooms with young girls.”

That doesn’t sit well with ACLU Montana Executive Director Caitlin Borgmann.

“I’m very sad and disappointed that, even after seeing the developments with the North Carolina law, the tribe is still moving ahead with this,” she told the station, adding that the ACLU is against transgender discrimination and that the bathroom bill “promotes exclusion.”

But Bauer told the KTRV that he’s about more pressing issues.

“We have enough problems here with death and drugs, so maybe we’re just a little protective,” he told the station. “I’m more concerned with being physically correct and protecting our children than being politically correct.”

Bauer added that there are very few transgender people on the reservation, which has a population of 6,000, so the issue isn’t a huge one.

But Borgmann told KTRV she wants to meet with tribal leaders and convince them to go in a different direction.

“If it stands, we will think about our options,” she added.

According to its website, the “Fort Peck Reservation is home to two separate American Indian nations, each composed of numerous bands and divisions. The Sioux divisions of Sisseton, Wahpetons, the Yanktonais, and the Teton Hunkpapa are all represented. The Assiniboine bands of Canoe Paddler and Red Bottom are represented. The Reservation is located in the extreme northeast corner of Montana, on the north side of the Missouri River.”

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