Monday, December 29, 2014

Is the anti-transgender 'bathroom bill' lie losing its sting?

 . . . given the public’s general lack of familiarity with transgender people and their experiences, it hasn’t been hard to get voters more concerned with the prospect of wig-donning criminals sneaking into public bathrooms.

The myth has been used to attack all kinds of pro-LGBT protections -- city non-discrimination ordinancesfederal employment law, and school diversity policies. It’s not unusual for anti-LGBT conservatives to simply rebrand broad non-discrimination laws as “bathroom bills” – phrasing that was unfortunately often adopted by news outlets.

That trend was strong in 2014, with conservative media outlets like Fox News regularly peddling “bathroom bill” talking points to attack non-discrimination laws like the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

But the “bathroom bill” horror story appears to have lost some of the weight it once carried. HoustonSan AntonioMiami-Dade CountyPlanoSpringfield, Missouri, and other cities all enacted non-discrimination laws protecting transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations. The Cleveland City Council is currently considering an ordinance that would explicitly repeal the bathroom exemption of its non-discrimination law -- a proposition that would have been dead in the water just a few years ago. Schools across the country have adopted policies allowing transgender students to use the locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity, and the Department of Education’s official recommendation for public schools is now in line with that position.

According to Carlos Maza of Equality Matters, the "bathroom bill" fear tactic is losing its sting because of two factors - transgender folks are receiving visibility and the horror stories of predators invading women's restrooms are turning out to be more blather than truth.  While this homophobic lie does retain some power, it's nice to know that yet another religious right tactic geared to denying lgbt equality is slowly but surely going the way of  the dinosaur.

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