NY Times Editorial Board Calls Out The “Lunacy” Of Anti-LGBT Bathroom Bills

For the second time in the past month, the New York Times editorial board decried the “lunacy” of anti-LGBT “bathroom bills” seeking to ban transgender people from the public bathrooms that align with their gender identity, calling on lawmakers to consider the “price of bigotry” when pushing for such legislation.  

Last month, following a special session convened by North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a bill (HB2) targeting the transgender community by banning people from using public restrooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificate. The measure, which also prohibits local municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, was introduced in response to a provision adopted in Charlotte expanding nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

Proponents of the law peddled the debunked talking point that the ordinance's nondiscrimination protections for transgender people would allow male predators to enter women’s bathrooms and commit sexual assault. Responding to the law last month, the New York Times editorial board excoriated the North Carolina legislature for “spuriously portraying transgender women as potential rapists” to ram through an “appalling, unconstitutional bill.” The board slammed the “bathroom predator” myth as a “threat [that] exists only in the imagination of bigots.”

Despite the intense backlash to HB2 and economic harm caused by the law over the past several weeks, legislators in six other states are pushing for similar laws broadly banning transgender people from restrooms. On April 18, the New York Times editorial board once again called out the “lunacy” of these laws, quoting a letter from a South Carolina sheriff with 41 years of experience in law enforcement, who called the “bathroom predator” myth a “non-issue.” The Times also highlighted the serious economic cost of “bathroom bills” and asked lawmakers to consider “the price of bigotry” when pushing for anti-LGBT legislation:

After the withering backlash against North Carolina for passing a discriminatory law against gay and transgender people last month, it would stand to reason that lawmakers and governors in other states would think twice before peddling bills that dictate which restrooms transgender people can use.

And yet, state legislators in Tennessee, Kansas, South Carolina and Minnesota are pushing similar absurd measures. The lunacy at the heart of this demand to police every public bathroom was captured by Leon Lott, the sheriff of Richland County in South Carolina, who told state lawmakers last week that the law would be unenforceable because his officers could not be in the business of inspecting people’s genitals.

“In the 41 years I have been in law enforcement in South Carolina, I have never heard of a transgender person attacking or otherwise bothering someone in a restroom,” Sheriff Lott wrote in a letter to the committee studying the state’s bathroom bill. “This is a non-issue.”

Laws to address non-issues can have serious repercussions. The hastily passed bill in North Carolina, which said people must use public restrooms based on the gender on their birth certificate and prohibited local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances, has been roundly condemned by corporate leaders, civil rights groups and religious leaders.

The law cost the state hundreds of jobs after PayPal scrapped plans to open a global hub in Charlotte and Deutsche Bank suspended plans to expand its operations in the state. Executives from 80 major companies, including Google, Apple and Facebook, wrote a letter to the governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, urging repeal of the law, arguing that it would make it “far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers.”


Despite what supporters of these laws might claim, the measures do nothing to make restrooms safer. They will only further stigmatize and endanger people who already face systemic discrimination. If lawmakers who might want to follow North Carolina’s abhorrent example aren’t moved by appeals to equality and human rights, they should ponder this reality: The price of bigotry is becoming quite steep.