The Just Want Privacy campaign claims it’s on the verge of turning the tide nationwide against bathroom policies intended to protect transgender rights. But the opposing campaign has received even more money.
Will Washington turn the tide nationwide against policies intended to protect bathroom rights for transgender people?
Boosted by a $50,000 donation, the campaign Just Want Privacy claims it will.
The group is trying for the second time to get an initiative on the ballot, I-1552, that would make individuals in schools and other public places use facilities that correspond to the gender they were identified with at birth.
On Monday, Just Want Privacy announced that over the weekend it had received the contribution.
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“This is a big deal folks,” wrote campaign chair Joseph Backholm in the announcement, posted on Facebook. “While we had originally planned to pay for 100K signatures, we are hopeful now that we will be able to pay for 150K signatures.”
The campaign, which failed to get enough signatures last year to qualify for the ballot, needs to get 260,000 signatures by July in order to be voted on in 2017.
Backholm did not say who gave the donation, and it does not yet appear on the state Public Disclosure Commission’s website. The largest contribution listed to date this year is $25,000 from Cedar Park Assembly of God Church, and in all Just Want Privacy has collected $156,000 in contributions, according to the latest reports.
Financially, the campaign has a lot of catching up to do.
Opposition campaign Washington Won’t Discriminate reported donations totaling $283,000, including $50,000 from the ACLU of Washington and $25,000 from Microsoft.
A fundraising email Tuesday from Washington Won’t Discriminate, nonetheless, sounded an alarm. “They’re buying access to the ballot and if they keep this up they have a real shot,” wrote campaign chairman Seth Kirby, a transgender man.
“The opposition wants Washington to be the poster-child for a national anti-transgender movement,” he added, a notion he said made his stomach churn.
But I-1552 does not seem like an easy win.
Amazon, Google and an array of public figures have gone on record opposing Just Want Privacy’s aims. And fighting I-1552 is a central theme of current Pride month activities. Washington Won’t Discriminate posted on Facebook that it found hundreds of supporters at the Volunteer Park Pride Festival last weekend.
The battle over bathrooms and locker rooms heated up locally after a state Human Rights Commission regulation went into effect in late 2015. The regulation guarantees access to such facilities at public and private buildings — including schools, restaurants and places of employment — according to a person’s gender identity.
That’s the only way transgender people can feel safe and comfortable, said supporters of the regulation.
But opponents said they didn’t feel safe, raising the specter of facilities invaded by men pretending to be transgender women.
Sometimes, the bathroom issue flares up in unexpected ways. Last week, the Seattle Public Library denied a transgender man access to the only private restroom in its downtown building. The library said the restroom, located in the Central Library’s children’s section, is reserved for families.
The incident caused a stir among LGBTQ activists and prompted a complaint by the man to the city’s Human Rights Commission. And the library struggled to explain itself, issuing two statements, the second more apologetic.
“To our transgender community, for whom our current practices are less than supportive in your most personal expression, we extend our apologies,” read the most recent statement posted late Monday by City Librarian Marcellus Turner.
The library will make private restrooms available upon request until a new gender-neutral facility opens by year’s end, he said.