March 24th, 2023


CHICAGO – Advocates celebrated passage by the Illinois House of legislation that will reduce barriers for businesses serving their communities and customers by allowing for the adoption of gender-neutral multiple-occupancy restrooms by businesses, universities, and building owners who wish to do so.

Sponsored by State Rep. Katie Stuart, D- Edwardsville, the legislation passed the Illinois House 60-40. HB 1286 now advances to the Illinois Senate, where it is sponsored by State Sen. Celina Villanueva. This initiative passed the Illinois House previously as HB 3195 in 2021.

House Bill 1286 leaves decisions to adopt a gender-neutral multiple-occupancy restroom up to business and building owners as they determine how best to serve their communities and customers. For those businesses that adopt the restrooms, the bill establishes basic requirements to ensure safety, privacy, and inclusion.

HB 1286 is necessary because existing law and regulations require that gendered facilities be adopted before a gender-neutral multiple-occupancy restroom can be implemented. Thus, existing provisions prevent smaller businesses with less resources from serving their customers by adopting gender-neutral restrooms. In 2021, the City of Chicago adopted an ordinance similar to HB 1286.

“This bill is a victory for all who support the freedom of businesses to make their own decisions about how to conduct their day-to-day operations,” Stuart said. “There’s been a lot of confusion due to claims that this bill would force businesses to change their bathrooms. I can’t stress enough how false that is. This bill is about removing a prohibition, not about imposing requirements, beyond those which are necessary to set basic standards for those establishments that may choose to make the change. I believe that inclusion matters, and that belief is what’s at the heart of this bill.”

“We applaud the Illinois House for passing this bill to cut red-tape and let businesses serve their customers as they see fit,” said Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson. “By reducing these barriers, this legislation will support my family and other families. In fact, HB 1286 would benefit broad demographics in our state, including parents and guardians who accompany their child into a restroom; caregivers, spouses, family members, or friends who assist another person in a restroom; and trans and gender-diverse folks. We appreciate Rep. Stuart and Sen. Villanueva’s leadership.”

“AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) and Pride Action Tank (PAT) thank the members of the Illinois House of Representatives for passage of HB1286. We are especially grateful for bill sponsor State Rep. Stuart who pressed on even in the face of threats of violence towards her and her staff,” said Kim L. Hunt, executive director of PAT, a project of AFC. “As our transgender and gender nonbinary siblings continue to be under attack and threatened with erasure in state houses across the country, Illinois remains a beacon of hope. We look forward to continuing to work with our sponsor State Sen. Villanueva to ensure passage in the Senate.”

HB 1286 is supported by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the American Institute of Architects-Illinois, the Illinois Pipe Trades Association, the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Northwestern University, Equality Illinois, AIDS Foundation Chicago, Pride Action Tank, and the Community Restroom Access Project, among other organizations.

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