Bozeman Daily Chronicle: “Montana is No Place for ‘Bathroom Bill'”

“The Montana Family Foundation is nothing if not persistent. The group is pushing a ballot initiative — the Montana Locker Room Privacy Act — that would ban transgender individuals from using a public restroom or locker room not designated for their gender on their birth certificate. And it would also allow people to sue the state for emotional distress if they spot a transgender individual doing so.

A similar measure was rightfully rejected earlier this year by the Republican-controlled Legislature. But the foundation has drafted a ballot initiative and recently got the go-ahead from state Attorney General Tim Fox to begin collecting the needed 25,800 signatures from at least 34 legislative districts to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

Note to all voters: Think twice before you sign. In fact, don’t sign at all.

Many voters will be tempted to reflexively sign after hearing the hyper-emotional appeal of supporters. ‘These people’ are targeting our children. ‘These people’ are different from us. ‘These people’ can’t be trusted.

Aside from the absurdity of those claims, if passed this measure will have unintended consequences. When the state of North Carolina passed a similar ban, the economic consequences were real and significant. NCAA sports events planned for the state were cancelled. Business ventures went elsewhere. North Carolinians have been trying to repeal the bill ever since.

Montanans who sign the foundation’s version of a ‘bathroom bill’ are flirting with the same fate.

This misguided effort discriminates, pure and simple, and is a solution in search of a problem. The Family Foundation and like-minded groups seem to think transgender people are clamoring in droves to get into restrooms and locker rooms of their adopted gender, and that some sort of sexual trauma awaits us if we don’t take drastic action. Truth be told, transgender individuals use bathrooms designated for their adopted gender every day without anyone one the wiser and without incident. How is that a problem?

On those rare occasions when it might become an issue in a public school or government office, let local officials make decisions on a case-by-case basis. We do not need a state law that discriminates against a small minority and could potentially do the state economic harm.” 

Published on July 28th, 2017 by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.