It’s an expensive gambit, policing bathroom stalls. In North Carolina – the patient zero of the bathroom bill debate — the cost of denying transgender people access to facilities consistent with their gender identity is projected to top several billion dollars.The Associated Press crunched the numbers and found that North Carolina, which passed its infamous HB2 bathroom bill last year, stands to lose a whopping $3.76 billion in business over the next dozen years. The AP says it arrived at that figure through open-records requests and interviews with officials.
In the last year alone, North Carolina lost an estimated $630 million in business, according to an analysis by Forbes.But proponents of the measure, like Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, have shrugged off the idea that HB2 is harming the state economy. “The effect is minimal to the state,” Forest recently told Texas lawmakers who are considering a similar bill. “Our economy is doing well. Don’t be fooled by the media.”The economic fallout when HB2 passed last March was swift. On April 5, PayPal nixed plans to open a new facility in North Carolina that would have created 400 new jobs. On April 8, Bruce Springsteen canceled a scheduled concert, triggering a flurry of further cancellations by other artists including Ringo Starr, Pearl Jam, Maroon 5, and Demi Lovato that month. Charlotte’s Visitation Authority reported in April that 13 groups that were considering holding events or conventions in the state’s largest city had changed their minds as a result of HB2, including the Virginia-based Southern Sociological Society.In July, the NBA pulled its all-star game. The National Collegiate Athletics Association, which also pulled a championship game from North Carolina last year as a result of HB2, recently issued a statement saying it would not be “hosting current or future events in the state” until the law is changed.Tourism officials consulted by AP estimated that cancelled events tied to HB2 cost the state more than $196 million. And that number doesn’t include the cost of lost projects, contracts, and jobs. In Charlotte, projects that would have brought an estimated 2,000 jobs were lost because of HB2, the AP reports.And North Carolina can’t really afford to be losing business – the state is $107.6 billion in debt to the federal government.Thirteen states are now weighing similar measures. The Texas Senate last week passed a “bathroom bill” in a 21-10 vote. One Democrat, State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., voted in favor of the bill. Still, Texas lawmakers are proceeding cautiously. In San Antonio, where the NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball championship will be played later this year, legislators have included a provision that would allow the NCAA to determine its own bathroom regulations in its chosen venues.