HOUSTON – In her effort to report on Tuesday’s overwhelming defeat of the controversial Proposition 1 – the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance – Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post wandered into a bit of editorializing.
Terkel tried to convince readers that the basis of the argument against Prop. 1 – that it would have allow biological males to use women’s restrooms, apparently even in schools – was somehow false or misleading.
With about 95 percent of precincts reporting, about 61 percent of ballots were cast against the proposal, according to the Texas Tribune. And Terkel was clearly upset by that result.
She pointed out that Prop. 1 was supported by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but wrote that “these heavy hitters weren’t able to get past the catchy, fear-mongering slogans and images used by their opponents.”
“Conservative activists – who were heavily outspent by LGBT advocates – dubbed Prop. 1 the ‘bathroom ordinance’ and adopted the slogan ‘No men in women’s bathrooms, playing up fears that passage could lead to male sexual predators dressing up as women and entering women’s restrooms,” Terkel wrote.
“This factually dishonest message proved to be incredibly effective: Many Houston voters seemed to think the measure was solely about access to restrooms and were unaware of the broader nondiscrimination protections in the measure.”
There are a couple problems with Terkel’s reporting.
First, the arguments against the proposal were not “factually dishonest.”
While the specific language allowing transgendered people to use the restrooms of their choice was taken out of the ordinance before it was originally passed last year, most experts agreed that Proposition 1 would still result in the same legal right for transgendered people.
Terkel admitted as much in her story, writing “Prop. 1 never specifically mentioned bathrooms. It did, however, encompass barring discrimination in public accommodations, which includes public restrooms.”
The voters of Houston understood that. And they don’t like the idea of having biological men in women’s rooms or vice-versa.
Terkel went out of her way to point out that the defeat of Proposition 1 resulted in a lost opportunity to add a layer of protection against discrimination for a number of groups, in terms of employment, housing and other situations.
She may be right about that, but who’s to blame? Perhaps Terkel should point the finger at the people who insisted on having bathroom and shower language in the original mix. Americans don’t approve of discrimination in housing or hiring, or forced segregation due to race, religion or sexual orientation.
But they clearly want restrooms and showers segregated by biological gender.
It’s not just a matter of safety for women using public restrooms. It’s also a matter of modesty and privacy for all citizens, particularly school children who might be very uncomfortable showering or using restrooms with the opposite sex.
A school district in Illinois was recently threatened with defunding by the federal government because it insisted that a transgender boy who wants to use the girls shower facility would have to dress behind a special set of curtains, so the female students wouldn’t be exposed to his genitalia.
The government seems to think that the use of the curtains would discriminate against the student, because he emotionally identifies as a female.
Houston residents obviously want no part of that type of nonsense.
If city leaders want an ordinance that provides a layer of protection against discrimination in hiring, housing and other situations, they had better consider removing bathrooms and showers from the equation.
As Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick put it, “The voters clearly understand that this proposition was never about equality – that is already the law. It was about allowing men to enter women’s restrooms and locker rooms — defying common sense and common decency.”