By Bill Pan
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has signed into law a bill that keeps access to bathrooms, locker rooms, and shower rooms to people of the facility’s designated sex, no matter their preferred gender.
The restriction applies to dorms at state-run colleges and universities, prisons, and correctional facilities for youths and adults. Those who wish to use bathrooms and showers not designated for their biological sex, including people identifying as “transgender” or “gender-nonconforming,” will need to get permission from an administrator or staff member at the facility.
The bill overwhelmingly passed the Republican-led state Legislature with majorities large enough to overcome a governor’s veto. Burgum, a Republican, in 2021 vetoed a measure aimed to bar male-born athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports.
Burgum signed the bill into law Tuesday, his office said in a statement the following day.
North Dakota now joins Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Tennessee as the eighth state to have laws that require people to use bathrooms corresponding to their sex.
The bathroom bill is among a series of sex- and gender-related measures that became law in North Dakota this month. On April 20, Burgum signed a bill that makes it a crime to conduct “gender reassignment” surgeries or prescribing puberty blockers for minors—those under the age of 18. That bill had also passed the state House and Senate with veto-proof majorities.
Prior to that, on April 11, Burgum signed a pair of bills that ban male-born from athletes competing in female sports in K-12 school and college in the state. Unlike two years ago, Republican lawmakers this time were able to garner enough votes to override a veto.
“Over the past two years, with more than 27,000 students participating in North Dakota high school sports under current North Dakota High School Activities Association (NDHSAA) rules, there still has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl playing or entering the process to even ask to play on a North Dakota girls’ team,” Burgum said in a statement. “Nevertheless, the Legislature has now resoundingly determined that restrictions beyond the 2022 NDHSAA rules for girls’ sports should be codified in state law.”
Not all Republican bills survived Burgum’s veto. On April 3, state House Republicans failed to push through a bill that would have prohibited public school employees from addressing a student using pronouns that aren’t aligned to the student’s sex unless permitted by the student’s parents.
“The teaching profession is challenging enough without the heavy hand of state government forcing teachers to take on the role of pronoun police,” Burgum said in a message to state House Republicans, who fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to block the veto.
“Parents, teachers and administrators using compassion, empathy and common sense can address individual and infrequent situations that may arise,” he added.