PolitiFact Gets North Carolina Transgender Fight ‘Mostly Wrong’

By Dustin Siggins Published on April 13, 2016

For the second time in four months, PolitiFact’s foray into the national fight over gender has crossed from fact-checking into promotion of gender-bending ideology.

In December, PolitiFact declared it was “False” for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to say the Obama administration “is going after school districts, trying to force them to let boys shower with little girls.” Politifact qualified that assessment several days later, but the site’s reason stayed the same — PolitiFact was taking as “fact” that boys who say they are girls are girls.

Now, PolitiFact says the defunct Charlotte ordinance that clearly and plainly opened up all business restrooms to anyone of either gender preference…didn’t.

Where Politifact Missed the Boat

According to PolitiFact’s North Carolina reporter, Will Doran, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest erred when he tweeted that the “Charlotte ordinance opened all bathrooms to all sexes at all times when it removed exception for bath & locker rooms.”


Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance specifically said that “this section does not apply to a private club or other establishment not, in fact, open to the public.”

A PayPal corporate office is a private establishment. So no, it would not have been illegal for PayPal to have male and female restrooms in its own offices.

At first glance, this argument appears to be on solid footing. However, Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Matt Sharp told The Stream that “PolitiFact is mostly wrong.”

“Politifact claims that the ordinance would not apply to Paypal because it doesn’t apply to ‘a private club or other establishment not, in fact, open to the public,'” noted Sharp. “But that section was deleted when Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance was amended.”

Second, Politifact assumes a business like PayPal isn’t a “public accommodation” under the law. But as Sharp pointed out (no emphasis added), “Charlotte’s City code defines a ‘public accommodation’ as ‘a business, accommodation, refreshment, entertainment, recreation, or transportation facility of any kind, whether licensed or not, whose goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations are extended, offered, sold or otherwise made available to the public.” 

Sharp adroitly summarized Doran’s errors in an e-mail:

I’m confident that Paypal offers a “service” – namely the ability to securely transfer money over the internet — to the public. Indeed, I myself have even used this service in the past. So under the amended ordinance, Paypal is a public accommodation. It could not claim to be a private establishment not open to the public, because protections for such establishments were deleted when the Ordinance was amended. Thus, Paypal could not refuse to allow a male to use a female restroom.

What PolitiFact Got (Sort of) Right

Doran did get one thing partially right — he corrected a different tweet from Forest that claimed the Charlotte ordinance would make designating single-sex bathrooms illegal. Sharp agreed, but pointed out that this is a distinction without a difference.

The issue isn’t about “restrooms designated for males and females,” he said. “Rather, you can’t deny a male from using the restrooms designated for females. … You don’t have to change the signs, but you can’t effectively regulate who goes in there anymore.”

In other words, the law didn’t make single-sex bathroom signs illegal — they just can’t mean anything. Which means PolitiFact was right on paper, but wrong in substance — which means they should change their rating of Foster from “False” to “Mostly True.”

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