Utah lawmakers start discussion of transgender students and bathrooms in schools

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The bathroom debate is underway at the Utah State Capitol.

On Tuesday, lawmakers voted to have the state Education Interim Committee study the impact of Washington's "Dear Colleague Letter" to the states, how it impacts Utah schools and how it impacts Utah transgender students.

The letter from the Obama Administration also states, schools are not required to let transgender students "use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so... However to make them available if transgender students “seek additional privacy.”

The problem the legislative committee ran into on Tuesday was making sure the committee studies the impact on children - not just the impact on schools.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said he is upset with the Obama administration telling the states what to do and sees the letter as an overreach.

"I think we are capable of dealing with this issue locally and probably even on a school district basis than have it dictated from the government," said Niederhauser said.

"We are not North Carolina here we are not Mississippi," said Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City. "We are not Alabama we are Utah. And we care about our children, we care about all our children including those special amazing gifts from God including those transgender children."

The study will take several months.