The bathroom myth is an argument hate groups consistently trot out whenever LGBT equality measures are up for discussion, claiming that if we allow transgender people to use preferred bathrooms, predatory men will exploit this access to assault women and children.
A bathroom bill, requiring people to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender at birth, even made it through a few committees in the Florida House before the 2015 legislative session came to a close.
Right now, all eyes are on Jacksonville, where a proposal to include sexual orientation and gender identity into nondiscrimination protections is being hotly debated. As is the routine, opponents to the measure have taken the podium to claim that the protections will pave the way for predators.
Media Matters, a conservative watchdog group, questioned leaders from ten Florida cities and counties that have in place the exact protections being debated in Jacksonville right now.
They were unable to find one instance of predators exploiting equality protections to commit assault in bathrooms.
Media Matters checked in with Atlantic Beach, Broward County, Dunedin, Gulfport, Gainesville, Miami-Dade County, Monroe County, Orange County, Orlando and Palm Beach County. They asked officials in each area two questions: Has the LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance resulted in increased sexual assault or rape in women’s restrooms? Have you seen any incident of a man pretending to be transgender to sneak into a women’s restroom?
The municipalities have had some time to test the theory. Several of the areas have had the LGBT-inclusive protections in place for nearly a decade, and Monroe County’s has been in place since 2003.
This isn’t the first time Media Matters has taken on the bathroom myth. In 2014, they checked in with twelve states that have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination protections, and in 2015, they repeated the exercise with three Texas cities that have LGBT protections. The found the same result both times: no instances of increased assault in restrooms or predatory men claiming to be transgender to sneak into women’s restrooms.
Unfortunately, the bathroom myth tactic seems to work. According to Media Matters, “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” was a key rallying cry used to ultimately defeat LGBT nondiscrimination protections in Houston.