Several of Cleveland.com's editorial board members misrepresented a proposed non-discrimination ordinance that would prohibit discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations - including the use of restrooms and locker rooms - by peddling the myth that sexual predators will be allowed to sneak into women's bathrooms.
Cleveland City Council is considering an ordinance that would prohibit places of public accommodation from denying transgender people access to restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity. The ordinance would remove a loophole in existing civil rights law, which explicitly allowed businesses to deny access to restrooms based on a person's gender identity.
On December 4, Cleveland.com - the news portal for the Northeast Ohio Media Group and Cleveland's Plain Dealer - published an editorial board roundtable several writers criticized the ordinance, claiming it would give “both genders... access to all bathrooms and locker rooms.” Many of the editorial comments warned that the measure would allow male sexual predators to sneak into women's restrooms:
Sharon Broussard, editorial writer, Northeast Ohio Media Group:
I am not comfortable with a broad, gender-neutral bathroom ordinance that would make it easier for heterosexual men with criminal intent or just kinky habits to gain access to bathrooms used by women and children. And they are out there.
Peter Krouse, editorial writer, Northeast Ohio Media Group:
I don't think opening up all bathrooms to both sexes is the answer. That would deny people, males and females, the privacy they deserve and possibly put them in uncomfortable or compromising situations. It could also create a fertile environment for predators to strike.
Kevin O'Brien, deputy editorial page editor, The Plain Dealer:
Just go by the external appearance of the plumbing the good Lord gave you and keep your “expressions” to yourself.
The comments by these editorial writers grossly misrepresent the proposed ordinance, which says nothing about allowing men to use women's restrooms. In the cities and states that have enacted similar ordinances - including the nearby city of Columbus -- prohibiting businesses from discriminating on the basis of a person's gender identity hasn't required those business to abolish gender-specific restrooms.
In addition, the myth about sexual predators sneaking into women's restrooms has been debunked by experts including law enforcement officials and sexual abuse victims' advocates. States and cities across the country have prohibited transphobic discrimination in public accommodations without incident.
Cleveland.com's editorial board members' misinformed views about the city's proposed non-discrimination ordinance follow a November article from the outlet that inaccurately claimed the measure would “open all public restrooms and showers to both sexes.”