Bathroom Bill: Bad for business, bad for Texas

There’s a reason some of the most powerful businesses in Texas are standing up against the “bathroom bill” in the current special session. Businesses like Google, Facebook, Apple, IBM, HP and Microsoft, and homegrown-Texas businesses like Southwest Airlines, Dell and Silicon Labs are actively opposing the discriminatory bill due to the threat it poses if passed.

Getting through Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session agenda is expected to cost taxpayers over $1 million. Add to that the potential Texas impact of $5.6 billion if a bathroom bill is passed, according to The Cost of Discriminatory Legislation Economic Impact Study by Angelou Economics: That could devastate Texas’ economy, businesses and communities.

The “compromise” to the original bathroom bill, Senate Bill 6, is on the agenda for the special session as House Bill 46 and House Bill 50, which target schools and the vulnerable students within them. It is discriminatory and segregative and could cause irrefutable damage:

  • Economic studies estimate that this legislation will cost Texas up to $5.6 billion through 2026.

  • The NFL, NBA and NCAA stand against discrimination. If these and similar organizations and events discontinue Texas-based activities, Texas stands to lose over $1.04 billion in tourism.

  • Professionals — especially millennials who overwhelmingly value inclusion— are declining job offers in states that promote discrimination. In 2015 alone, more than 100K professionals moved to Texas for jobs. Our state cannot afford to lose top talent, especially when it is essential to the future of our creative and technology industries.

Due to its potentially huge detrimental effect on Texas, businesses, organizations and the community have spoken out in opposition to the bill. Most recently, the ACLU of Texas, Legacy Community Health and GSD&M teamed up with Academy Award-nominated, and Dazed and Confused and Boyhood director, Richard Linklater, to create a national campaign against the bill dubbed, “I Pee With LGBT.”

Using social media, the campaign struck a chord and quickly garnered national attention. Social media conversations surrounding SB 6 spiked, and prominent national press took note, including Rolling Stone, Nylon, The New York Times, Mashable, Esquire, Adweek, Refinery29 and Huffington Post.

It was one of many public initiatives which stoked enough opposition to the bill to ensure it didn’t pass. But with a special session here, a bathroom bill remains a risk to Texas. In a single year, North Carolina lost up to $630 million after passing legislation nearly identical to the bathroom bill — a risk Texas cannot afford.

The bathroom bill doesn’t improve safety. The bathroom bill hinders economic growth, community, business development and Texas’ overall ability to stay competitive in the search for the kind of diverse, smart talent that moves our state forward. Several Texas law enforcement officials have stated that non-discrimination ordinances have not reduced public safety in Texas cities, including San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth. All have ordinances allowing everyone to use the restrooms of the gender in which they identify, and none have experienced any increase in public safety incidents.

The bathroom bill is Texas legislative sausage-making at its worst, codifying politics as policy.

The fight against discriminatory legislation is far from over. Help us win: vocalize your opposition to lawmakers and share the “I Pee With LGBT” campaign using #IPEEWITHLGBT to keep the conversation going.

Duff Stewart, GSD&M

Duff Stewart is the CEO of GSD&M, a creatively driven, full-service agency born and raised in Austin, TX.