Washington State Anti-LGBT Group Launches Campaign To Repeal Non-Discrimination Protections

The Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW) is the group behind the latest effort to limit protections for the LGBT community in Washington state. The group has a long history of spouting anti-LGBT rhetoric, including claiming that the “transgender revolution” is a product of “hurt feelings.”

On February 17, the Family Policy Institute of Washington announced via e-mail a new anti-transgender campaign titled “Just Want Privacy.” The campaign aims to repeal the Human Rights Commission's clarification of the state's 2006 non-discrimination law, which prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The regulation guarantees equal access to restrooms, locker rooms, and similar facilities according to a person's gender identity.  

The clarification has caused an uproar among anti-LGBT activists, led by FPIW, which falsely claims that the law will allow sexual predators to sneak into women's restrooms. Advocates for victims of sexual assault, law enforcement and government officials, and a Pulitzer-prize winning columnist have all debunked the talking point, calling it "beyond specious."

FPIW, based in Washington state, is an established anti-LGBT group  with ties to one of the country's most notorious anti-LGBT hate groups -- the Family Research Council. FPIW is led by Joseph Backholm, a former legal fellow at the extreme anti-LGBT legal group Alliance Defending Freedom. In a December 2014 blog post, he claimed the “transgender revolution” is a result of hurt feelings.

FPIW has spent have spent the last month disseminating misinformation and employing anti-trans rhetoric, including:

  • claiming that allowing transgender people equal access to locker rooms and bathrooms is part of the real “war on women”;
  • describing LGBT non-discrimination protections as “a big welcome mat” for sexual predators; and
  • releasing a video that suggests trans people “don't want to deal with reality” and that the “compassionate” thing to do is to help people see themselves “in a way that conforms to reality.”

As the campaign kicks off, local and national media should contextualize the “Just Want Privacy” initiative with FPIW's well-established history of anti-LGBT extremism.