Nashville skyline, Tennessee Flag in shape of the state, and men and women bathroom sign

Looking Good Never Looked So Bad

It pains me to write what follows. And it pains me to say what the silence of the members of the Senate Education Committee said this week about who they wanted to look good in front of when it came to the bathroom bill that would have protected the privacy of K-12 students in our public schools.

What Happened to the Bathroom Bill?

A bill that members of the Senate Education Committee voted 7-2 in favor of last year was before the Senate Education Committee this Wednesday. The bathroom bill would have required schools to ensure that a student could go into a bathroom or locker room knowing that only others of his or her same biological sex were supposed to be in there.

In other words, under the bill, no biological male could use the junior high girl’s bathroom or locker room. Schools were allowed to make accommodations for students who do not “identify” with their biological sex. It was a commonsense bill.

But before anyone could have said, “Let’s keep the Human Rights Campaign happy,” the Chair of the committee ruled that there was no motion or second on the bill. That meant the bill died without anyone even wanting to go on record as to why they couldn’t vote for the bill.

I think I know all the reasons that could have been given for not supporting the bathroom bill. (Click here for a list of reasons given so far and my responses.) I provided every member a lengthy letter addressing every objection I’d heard. And, keep in mind, seven of them had voted for the bill last year.

So What Changed?

What changed was North Carolina. In case you didn’t hear, last year North Carolina’s Legislature valued the privacy and security of their children enough to pass a bill on this topic. And the Human Rights Campaign went all out urging businesses to boycott the state.

But the boycott’s effect was negligible. It cost North Carolina less than 1/10th of 1 percent of its gross domestic product. To put that in perspective, North Carolina thought the privacy and safety of their people was worth losing $1 out of $1,000.

What about the cost to Tennessee, though? The legislative committee that estimates the cost to state taxpayers of proposed legislation said the passage of the bill could result in lost conventions that could cost the state an estimated $300,000 in sales tax revenue. That would affect the state’s General Fund by 2/100ths of 1 percent. That’s like 20 cents out of $1,000.

Given a roughly $1 billion revenue surplus, losing $300,000 of that is nothing.

So what was the problem? It was all the “negative” publicity that would come if the bill became law.

Every article about North Carolina for the last year mentioned the bill its Legislature passed, and the liberal media did its best to leave the impression that folks in the Tar Heel state were homophobic and intolerant.

I think that is what the leaders in our General Assembly and our governor wanted to avoid—looking bad to the rest of the country.

But I don’t think we would have looked bad to everyone else in the country. There are a lot of folks who have looked favorably on North Carolina for what they had the courage to do (and a lot of them live in Tennessee).

However, we would have looked bad to the folks at the Human Rights Campaign and their devotees, if that’s what matters most.

Look Who’s Looking

But if we want to look good, we must be mindful of who is looking and whom we really want to impress by our looks.

In that regard, and taking a long-term view of things, Scripture tells us that God looks down from Heaven and observes all the ways of mankind. And elected officials are forewarned about the seriousness with which He looks upon their actions: “A divine decision is in the lips of the king; His mouth should not err in judgment” (Proverbs 16:10).

God’s judgment in regard to our sexuality is clear—we were made male and female, and we were designated by Him as such based on how we were made, not how we felt. And when our nakedness provoked a sense of modesty, He took the trouble to cover us.

That’s how I think God looks on the subject based on what He’s told us about ourselves. I wonder how we look in His eyes.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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