Texas business leaders say bathroom bill poll generates fear


    All gender restroom sign background. (Image credit: Cropped Photo: Adam Nicholson / CC BY 2.0)

    When Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced “The Privacy Protection Act,” one of the first things he said publicly was the bill had support “by an overwhelming majority in every poll of Texas from both parties, republicans and democrats. From Hispanics, African Americans, Anglos, men and women.”

    The poll Lt. Governor Patrick was referring to is a four question Baselice survey consisting of 626 voters conducted in early November 2016.

    The first question reads in part, “Do you support passing a state law that would make it illegal for men to enter in a public women’s restroom, locker room or shower in order to assure women have privacy and can feel safe?”

    Results show 69 percent of those surveyed voted ‘yes’ to the question, 21 percent ‘no’, 11 percent ‘unsure.’

    Jessica Shortall of Texas Competes, a partnership of business leaders including LGBT community members, said the terms “transgender” and “gender identity” never appear in the survey.

    “The Baselice poll isn't actually about where transgender people ought to be able to use the restroom. We don't know those respondents' opinions on that matter, because the question was never asked,” she said.

    Shortall said the omission of the terms is likely intentional. She pointed to a Texas Politics Project’s October Poll where the issue of transgender people’s access to bathrooms wasn’t a priority for Texans.

    “No matter what it is called, (bathroom bills) are designed to impact transgender people, and disproportionately transgender children. The Baselice poll wording focuses on creating a problem - and a source of fear - in the mind of those surveyed,” she said.

    The second question of the poll is worded similarly to the first but ends asking if the voter would support or oppose a law to prohibit men from entering a public women’s bathroom “regardless of the economic impact?”

    The results rendered similar to the first question.

    However, the third question didn’t see the same “overwhelming support” as the first two.

    “If Texas passed a law prohibiting men from entering a women’s restroom, locker room or shower, and college and professional sports organization responded by refusing to host playoff games and other events in Texas, then would you refuse to watch college and professional sports games on TV or purchase team merchandise to protest their decision to boycott Texas?”

    47 percent of voters said they would refuse to watch or purchase sports merchandise in protest, 38 percent said no, 14 percent were unsure.

    The methodology of the Baselice poll states 36 percent of interviews were conducted online, 26 percent were done by cell phone and 38 percent were surveyed by landline.

    Last week, The Texas Association of Businesses came out against the bill because they believe the legislation will lead to boycotts and losses of both billions in revenue and over 180,000 jobs.

    In North Carolina, a bathroom bill passed there cost the state $630 million in business since March of 2106, according to Forbes.

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