It’s been one year since North Carolina became the first state to pass what we now know as a “bathroom bill.”
HB 2, the law forbidding transgender people from using restrooms they identify with inside government facilities, angered many Tar Heels and civil rights groups and prompted businesses, entertainers, and sports leagues to boycott the state. Even the state’s lawmakers can’t agree on what to do with it.
To some, the fallout offers a cautionary tale of what not to do, turning the state into a shorthand for bad policy decisions leading to dire consequences. To others, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act represents a bold defense of privacy rights that has inspired similar measures.
Here’s where things stand a year later:
HB 2 has cost North Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars
HB 2 probably cost the state millions through the loss of jobs, businesses, and consumer spending. But, even the top estimate would only represent a small fraction of the state’s overall economy — about $510 billion in gross domestic product.
While such economic losses are not insignificant, “the state’s overall economy is large enough that the losses are only about 0.1 percent of the total GDP,” according to Politifact.
… and hundreds, if not thousands of jobs
PayPal and Deutsche Bank seized the opportunity to take a bold stand against HB 2 by calling off job expansion plans. But there’s no way to account for businesses who made similar decisions behind closed doors without issuing news releases about it.
The Boss and others canceled shows
Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas canceled concerts in the state. Those cancellations and others cost the Greensboro Coliseum Complex dearly, to the approximate tune of:
– $100,000 for Springsteen
– $68,000 for Cirque du Soleil
– $20,00 for the band Boston
– $72,261 from the ACC Swimming and Diving Championships
– $493,124 for the NCAA men’s basketball regional
The biggest blow came from sports
The state’s largest cities lost tournaments. Among them, Greensboro – which was scheduled to host the 2017 NCAA men’s basketball championship.
Charlotte lost the 2017 NBA All-Star game as well as concerts, conferences and more sporting events.
Understandably, sports fans are worried about the future
Conservative estimates of direct visitor spending on lodging, restaurants and retail from those events run around $250 million.
Undeterred, some states have proposed similar bills
HB 2’s opponents say it has emboldened lawmakers in other states as part of a broader backlash against LGBT rights that’s been growing ever since same-sex marriage was legalized in the US.
So far in the 2017 legislative session, 22 bathroom bills have been introduced in 16 states, many of which build on HB 2’s perceived deficiencies.
In Texas, for example, SB 6 and HB 1362 prevent local jurisdictions from passing ordinances related to restroom use just like HB 2, and then some. HB 1362 prevents school districts from adopting restroom policies; SB 6 creates civil and criminal penalties and directs the state attorney general to sue school districts for violations.
Some bills, however, are dead on arrival or fail to make it out of committee, such as Tennessee’s Senate Bill 771. Opponents of the bill cited the backlash in North Carolina as one factor against it