Texas Attorney General Tries to Bully Target into Discriminating

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who last year suggested that government officials can discriminate against gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage licenses, is now trying to bully retail giant Target into discriminating against transgender people.

Right-wing commentator Todd Starnes of Fox News reported today that Paxton sent a letter to Target objecting to the company’s policy allowing employees and customers to use public restrooms appropriate to their gender identity. Paxton claims in the letter that Target’s policy could encourage sexual predators to attack women and children in public restrooms. From the Fox News story:

“It is possible that allowing men in women’s restrooms could lead to criminal and otherwise unwanted activity,” Paxton wrote in the letter obtained exclusively by Fox News.

The attorney general is asking for Target to disclose its plans to protect women and children in their bathrooms and fitting rooms.

“As chief lawyer and law enforcement officer for the State of Texas, I ask that you provide the full text of Target’s safety policies regarding the protection of women and children from those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes,” Paxton wrote.

But 17 states and more than 200 cities across the country already have laws that bar discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations. Yet Paxton and other opponents have been unable to point to examples of instances in which someone has used those anti-discrimination measures to harass or harm someone in a public restroom.

But anti-LGBT politicians and pressure groups continue to use the bathroom predator myth as a way to undermine efforts to protect LGBT people from discrimination in public accommodations, housing and employment. Paxton, who is fighting criminal and ethics charges himself, is simply repeating the same unsubstantiated scare tactic in an attempt to bully a private business.