Fox News Gins Up “Bathroom Bill” Fears To Dismiss Protections For Transgender Students

Fox News attacked a bill in California to allow transgender students equal access to school facilities and programs, inappropriately calling the measure a “bathroom bill” and interviewing a notorious anti-LGBT activist to suggest that students will use the law to take advantage of members of the opposite sex.

During the August 9 edition of Happening Now, Fox News reporter Adam Housley discussed a California bill that would require public schools to allow transgender students to choose which school teams they wish to join based on their gender identity. The bill would also allow transgender students to use restrooms and facilities that match their gender identity.

Throughout the segment, Fox's chyron inaccurately identified the measure as a “bathroom bill,” while Housley echoed right-wing fears that the measure might lead to inappropriate behavior between students:

HOUSLEY: Those opposed say we're going too far with students and actually hurts the general population as a whole. They say that kids potentially could take advantage of this and parents will have to start worrying about boys showering with girls and vice versa.

The segment also featured a statement from Brad Dacus - the president of the notoriously anti-LGBT Pacific Justice Institute - who warned that the bill “grotesquely violates the privacy rights and security interests and needs of students.”

Fox's framing of the measure as a “bathroom bill” is a shameless attempt to prop up the right-wing myth that transgender protections will be exploited by sex offenders who want to infiltrate opposite sex bathrooms.

In reality, the measure would merely affirm current law which prohibits California public schools from discriminating against transgender students. Allowing access to appropriate facilities and participation on school teams is an important step to deal with the high rates of bullying and harassment faced by transgender students.  As a recent decision by the Colorado Rights Division stated, refusing this kind of access to transgender students “creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating, or offensive."

Aside from peddling the baseless “bathroom bill” myth, Housley also referenced the case of a transgender male in a Los Angeles school district who successfully pushed his school to grant him access to appropriate facilities. Housley repeatedly referred to the student, who identifies as male, as a female, adding to Fox's long-standing transphobia problem.