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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 6, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 19
Anti-Trans I-1515 could cost state $4.5 billion
Section One
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Anti-Trans I-1515 could cost state $4.5 billion

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Initiative 1515, a measure to bar Transgender people from using gender-appropriate restrooms, could cost Washington state a whopping $4.5 billion in federal funding, according to a new report from the prestigious Williams Institute.

The Williams Institute researches the economic effects of anti-LGBT discrimination, and in its latest report it analyzes the fiscal impact of I-1515.

'The non-discrimination requirements in [Title VII and Title IX] protect transgender people from discrimination, including by allowing them to use restrooms and other facilities that correspond to their gender identity,' said Amira Hasenbush, a research fellow at the Williams Institute.

'Federal agencies that enforce these laws are authorized to suspend or terminate funds if recipients violate the non-discrimination requirements.'

Title IX requires that to receive federal funds public schools must not discriminate on the basis of sex. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and other federal agencies interpret that provision as barring discrimination on the basis of gender identity, so if I-1515 passes, the state could lose federal funding for education.

According to the Williams Institute, some $1 billion in K-12 funding and up to $3.3 billion in student loan funding would be in jeopardy.

Another federal law, Title VII, bars discrimination in the workplace and, again, federal funds could be withheld if DOJ finds that I-1515 infringes on the rights of Trans employees to use gender-appropriate restroom facilities.

That puts $130 million in federally funded contracts with Washington businesses at risk, as well as $65 million for the Workforce Training program and $2.5 million in federal grants under the Violence Against Women Act.

The Williams Institute has not yet come up with a figure for federal funds lost to Washington state's housing, health, and human services programs, or for the potential cost of litigation when public authorities are sued by Trans people for discrimination under federal law.

Even worse for the state, the Williams Institute report only takes into account federal funds that could be withheld if I-1515 passes. It does not try to estimate financial losses due to boycotts or businesses withdrawing investments from Washington state.

According to an analysis by the Christian Science Monitor, a similar law in North Carolina could have a devastating financial effect on that state.

'We're talking billions and billions of dollars at stake here,' says Andrew Brod, an economist at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. 'They're playing with fire.'

DOJ recently sent North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory a warning that his state must stop enforcing its anti-Trans law because it violates Title VII and Title IX.

The Williams Institute estimates some $4.8 billion of federal funds are at risk if North Carolina sticks by its law.

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