POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Utah auditor’s office finds no evidence of transgender bathroom law violations in four investigations

Jun 5, 2024, 6:06 PM | Updated: 6:45 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Office of the State Auditor finished an investigation into four possible violations of the recently passed bathroom law, it said, and was “unable to substantiate” the complaints. An investigation into a fifth complaint isn’t yet complete, the office said Wednesday.

State Auditor John Dougall said the complaints came from a stack of 12,000 that flooded their office in recent weeks. He would not detail any specifics of the complaints but said that in general, they allege misuse of facilities in Duschene County, the Provo School District, the Alpine School District and the North Sevier Recreation Center.

“These are complaints of somebody used a certain restroom in violation of policy. And so we first needed to find out, okay, what policy exists to determine whether or not it’s in violation of policy. And then, you know, could we actually substantiate the claim,” Dougall said.

For each of those four claims, Dougall’s office reports the claims are unsubstantiated — meaning there was no proof of an individual misusing a facility. But the auditor’s office did put Provo and Duschene County on notice that they need to finalize privacy plans within 30 days.

The bathroom law dictates that biological males use men’s rooms and biological females use women’s restrooms in “government-owned or controlled” facilities unless a person has fully transitioned and changed their birth certificate. It defines male and female by an individual’s reproductive organs.

The bill also requires more single-occupancy spaces in new buildings and to study the feasibility of retrofitting. It also requires schools to develop a “privacy plan” for students.

The office set up the online reporting tool as part of the law that requires the auditor’s office to “establish a process to receive and investigate alleged violations of this chapter by a government entity.”

Dougall said his office is tasked with making sure government entities have those privacy plans in place.

“What the legislature requires is they (government entities) have a plan to accommodate individuals who feel like they need some type of accommodation for a different facility,” Dougall said. “And so that comes down to what is the plan to deal with those accommodations?”

Dougall has been critical of the legislature since the portion of the law took effect on May 1. He posted two videos to social media from bathroom stalls, accusing the legislature of making him an unwilling bathroom monitor.

Dougall said his job is to determine whether a government entity is violating the law, not whether people are.

“We’re not checking people’s gender. We do not want people pictures of people in bathrooms and so forth. And we had folks that were claiming that they were going to start sending us pornographic pictures,” he said.

Dougall — who’s running for a seat in Congress in Utah’s 3rd District — said the threat of inappropriate pictures and the number of complaints was the reason he raised the issue publicly.

“I don’t think that (this issue) adds to my congressional campaign. Unfortunately, it’s a distraction, but I have to deal with it,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, if they’re just spamming us, that doesn’t actually change the law.”

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Utah auditor’s office finds no evidence of transgender bathroom law violations in four investigations