Utah auditor’s office still ‘unable to substantiate’ any trans bathroom ban complaints

The news release came hours before the Utah Legislature was expected to vote whether to ignore new federal Title IX protections in schools that extend to gender identity.

The Utah auditor has so far been “unable to substantiate” the handful of “possible good-faith efforts” to report violations of the state’s ban of transgender people using bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity in government buildings, the office announced Wednesday.

Auditor John Dougall issued a statement last month saying of the more than 12,000 bogus complaints it has received since a reporting form went live in early May, it could not verify four of the five potentially “plausible” allegations. An investigation into the fifth one, Dougall said Wednesday, also turned up nothing.

Passed during the first two weeks of this year’s legislative session, Morgan Republican Rep. Kera Birkeland’s “Sex-based Designations for Privacy, Anti-bullying and Women’s Opportunities,” or HB257, creates legal definitions of “female” and “male” that categorize Utahns by the reproductive organs of their birth, and restricts which bathrooms and locker rooms trans people can use in government-owned buildings. It also requires every government entity in the state to draw up a plan for how it will adhere to the law.

Dougall’s announcement comes just hours before state lawmakers will vote whether to ignore new rules from President Joe Biden’s administration that expands Title IX to require schools, colleges and universities that receive federal funding to allow transgender students access to restrooms that conform with their gender identity.

The auditor’s office has previously emphasized that it only assesses government agencies’ compliance with the law, not whether members of the public are following its restrictions.

“We will not investigate allegations about an individual’s bathroom use, and we will not investigate or determine an individual’s sex or gender,” Dougall wrote in an earlier statement.

The fifth complaint was made against the Utah Department of Corrections. A letter sent to the agency last week read, “The Office received an allegation that an employee in the Administrative offices allows an individual to use a sex-designated restroom facility that does not align with their sex.”

And while Dougall could not substantiate the complaint, the letter notes that Corrections “does not have a privacy compliance plan” and needs to adopt one within 30 days.

The auditor’s office also fielded a complaint that the east building of the Utah Capitol complex, also known as the Senate building, did not have a “privacy compliance plan.” Dougall sent letters to the Capitol Preservation Board and the Division of Facilities and Construction Management urging them to remedy the issue within 30 days.

A statement from the office noted that “there is a lack of clarity regarding which entity has the duty to adopt a privacy compliance plan in situations when multiple entities either share use or control of facilities for which a plan is required.”

Meanwhile, the office continues to have to sort through hoax complaints, Dougall said. Addressing the law, he has repeatedly criticized lawmakers for being “invasive and overly aggressive” and “too often [failing] to seek input from those most affected.”

“During June, almost all of the complaints we received were also frivolous complaints,” Wednesday’s news release said. “We have completed our investigations and are not investigating any other complaints at this time. As we identify credible or good-faith complaints, we will investigate those pursuant to the statutory requirement.”