Here's How Bathroom Laws Affect Everyone, Not Just Trans People
If you wanted to take the simplest view on the recent news stories about bathroom access, you'd probably come up with something along the following lines:
It's a minor issue. It will only affect transgender people. Transgender people are only a small percentage of all students nationwide.
Although that last part is true (only around 1.5 million people in America identify as transgender), the first part isn't. To be more clear, bathroom laws that aim to clarify which spaces transgender people can occupy, and which space they cannot, affect other groups of people, too.
Here's how bathroom policies (including President Trump making a u-turn on Obama's order to allow to allow transgender students to use bathrooms in accordance with their gender identity) can have ripple effects for other people.
To understand how these policies affect families, there's a simple notion that needs to understood.
The subject of whether or not transgender students can access restroom or locker room that correspond with the gender they identify with is linked to another subject: whether or not those student feel comfortable to exist at these schools.
When that comfortability is threatened, many parents then feel a responsibility to engage in a fight against school administrators and against the law. One of those parents is Kimberly Shappley, who spoke to the Guardian about Trump's recent move.
I really thought this was one thing we weren't going to have to fight about. I thought, this is going to be easy.
Parents like Shappley, a Christian minister, former Tea Party member and mother of 5-year-old trans daughter, are part of the story, too.
It's clear how a number of corporations perceive policies that prohibit transgender people from using the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity: hostility toward the LGBT community.
These companies include well known names like PayPal, which pulled its investment in a global operations center in Charlotte after the state passed HB2. When these companies decide not to do business with areas that implement bathroom regulation, an economic impact occurs.
Take North Carolina, for example. In July, the Human Rights Campaign estimated that the Charlotte area had lost $285 million and 1,300 jobs as a result of backlash to the infamous bathroom bill.
Bathroom bills have proven to affect how sports leagues decide where they will host events. The NBA decided to move its All-Star game from Charlotte to New Orleans as a result of North Carolina's bathroom bill push.
Going forward, the NCAA has indicated it will not hold further events — like it's huge money-maker, the NCAA tournament — if North Carolina's bathroom bill doesn't get repealed.
In Texas, where the governor is contemplating a similar push for a bathroom bill, the NFL has already warned that it could exclude the state from consideration for future Super Bowls.
Talk of bathroom bills and President Trump's recent decision puts added focus on the judicial system, i.e. the courts, where families will look to bring their cases front of judges.
The most significant of those cases is headed to the Supreme Court on March 28, when 17-year-old Gavin Grimm’s lawsuit against the Gloucester County school board will go to Washington.
There is now precedent for politicians losing elections, due in part to their position on bathroom policies.
Here, North Carolina comes to mind, again. Former governor Pat McCory lost a tight election while defending the unpopular bathroom bill against a candidate who wouldn't defend it.
As 2016 showed, with a certain set of circumstances, these issues can affect how certain elections shake out.
This should go without saying, but the greatest effects are felt by the students, and considering a few statistics, there's plenty of reason to have concern for them.
According to a study by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 30 percent of transgender youth students have tried to kill themselves at least once.
If bathroom policies add to the types of traumatic experiences that have proven themselves capable of pushing kids towards suicide, then there's no debate that those students will be affected most.
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