Bathroom Bill Debate Has Earned Texas $216 Million In Unwanted Publicity in 2017

By May 23, 2017 May 26th, 2017 Press Releases

Rhetoric and action targeting transgender Texan adults and children are part of the Texas brand

**This data has been updated to reflect an additional $8.81m in publicity in the period from5/23/17 to the morning of 5/26/17. This additional coverage has a “sentiment” score of -100%.

A review of press coverage shows that the Texas “bathroom bill” debate generated $225 million in publicity for the state of Texas in the period from January 10, 2016 to May 26, 2017

During the 85th Texas legislative session, more than 25,000 local, state, and national articles were written about the efforts to pass bathroom and changing room restrictions on transgender adults and children. More than 21,000 of these articles were published outside of Texas.

The media tracking service Meltwater was used to generate the data; its language-detecting algorithm deemed 72% of the coverage, or $162.26 million, “neutral;” 26.1%, or $58.67 million, “negative;” and 1.8%, or $4 million, “positive.” A review of coverage categorized as “positive” by the software revealed that these stories largely described efforts by performing artists, businesses, sports organizations and others to protest “bathroom bills.” Overall, the sentiment calculated across all news coverage was deeply negative, as seen in the chart below. (The February 2017 spike in sentiment was largely related to a “positive” story covering the NBA’s decision to move its All-Star Game from Charlotte to the LGBT-inclusive city of New Orleans.)

The topic of bathroom restrictions for transgender Texans has been shepherded into the spotlight by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and vocal anti-LGBT backers like Empower Texans, Conservative Republicans of Texas, and Texas Values.

Texas business leaders and small business owners have consistently cited the war for talent as a major concern related to the state’s anti-LGBT reputation. “HR executives and business leaders voice concern to us when stories about discrimination dominate the news about Texas,” said Jessica Shortall, Managing Director of Texas Competes, a coalition of nearly 1,300 Texas employers and chambers of commerce making the economic case for an LGBT-friendly Texas. “We cannot maintain the pipeline of talent needed to fuel this state’s economy in the face of national coverage that tells young workers that Texas is in the business of discrimination.”

In a February UT/TT 2017 poll, a majority of Texans said that it’s “not important” for the legislature to pass a bathroom law. In March, the Public Religion Research Institute released a poll showing that 53% of Americans oppose laws requiring transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex at birth. In a recent USA TODAY poll, Americans aged 18 to 35 – a group representing the current and future talent pool for many Texas employers – oppose bathroom laws by nearly a two-to-one ratio.


Source: Meltwater

Texas businesses and citizens can learn more about Texas Competes at The Texas Competes pledge is free for any Texas employer, large or small, to sign. Almost 1,300 Texas businesses and chambers of commerce have signed the pledge since 2015.