POLITICS
04/21/2016 04:15 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2017

Sexual Abuse Survivors Want Conservative Politicians To Knock It Off With 'Bathroom Predator' Myth

"We speak from experience and expertise when we state that these claims are false."

A coalition of 250 organizations working with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors are calling on conservative politicians to stop using rape as a scare tactic to discriminate against transgender people.

"Those who are pushing these proposals have claimed that these proposals are necessary for public safety and to prevent sexual violence against women and children," reads a statement the groups released on Thursday. "As rape crisis centers, shelters, and other service providers who work each and every day to meet the needs of all survivors and reduce sexual assault and domestic violence throughout society, we speak from experience and expertise when we state that these claims are false."

Proponents of North Carolina's controversial H.B. 2 law -- and similar proposed measures that are also considered to be discriminatory against LGBT citizens -- often argue that such legislation is important because men might otherwise enter women's restrooms and attack young girls. Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz alluded to that fear last week.

Many elected officials, law enforcement agencies and other experts have said there's little to no evidence supporting the "bathroom predator" myth.

H.B. 2 bars cities from enacting measures to protect LBGT people from discrimination and forbids trans people from using the bathrooms and locker rooms that correlate with their gender identity -- instead, they are required to use the ones that match the sex on their birth certificate. The law doesn't explain how this should be enforced

"We cannot stand by while the needs of survivors, both those who are transgender and those who are not, are obscured in order to push a political agenda that does nothing to serve and protect victims and potential victims," the statement continues. 

A man going into a women's restroom and assaulting someone is always illegal, even if there are anti-discrimination laws in place to protect LGBT rights.

"We know the threat of sexual assault is real and pervasive -- we just don't think discriminating against transgender people does anything to keep anyone safe," Terri Poore, policy director at the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, told The Huffington Post. 

As far as Poore knows, none of the politicians saying these bathrooms law would prevent sexual assaults have consulted groups that work with survivors. 

Laura Palumbo, communications director at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, told Media Matters on Thursday she hasn't seen research to back up the "bathroom predator" myth. If anything, LGBT people are more likely to face sexual assault and harassment, regardless of location. 

Read the full statement:

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Tyler Kingkade is a national reporter who covers higher education and sexual violence and is based in New York. You can reach him at tyler.kingkade@huffingtonpost.com, or find him on Twitter: @tylerkingkade.

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