KIRO 7, Fuse Washington, and the Gender Justice League have obtained recordings they say are of Family Policy Institute of Washington director and Just Want Privacy chairman Joseph Backholm telling I-1515 signature-gatherers to follow women into bathrooms in order to “make the point.”
Here’s one example (listen here):
For the gentlemen, what I would encourage you to do, if you want to be so bold and to make the point, take your petition and stand outside the women's restroom at the mall, and if any of the women don't want to sign it, just go ahead and follow 'em on in [laughter from crowd]. Maybe this will be a better time to sign our little petition...and we can make the point that way.
KIRO 7 characterized Backholm’s comments as “jokes,” but also noted that King County Sheriff John Urquhart found “what is jokingly suggested would be a violation of criminal trespass laws.” You can find more recordings of Backholm saying similar things here.
Was Backholm really "joking," and not, you know, condoning this kind of behavior? We don’t know. Backholm wouldn’t respond to KIRO 7’s questions about his comments.
Either way, having a man follow a woman into a gender-segregated bathroom wouldn’t be a new (and illegal) strategy. Online, conservative trolls have been suggesting the same idea since January. Then, two days before a state Senate vote on an anti-trans bathroom bill in February, a man entered a woman’s locker room in Seattle claiming that the state’s anti-discrimination law protected his right to do so.
“When a man recently entered a women's locker room at a Seattle pool, his intent was obviously to make the women and girls in the restroom upset and uncomfortable, and to make some kind of misguided point about the Human Rights Commission's rules regarding equal access to gender-segregated facilities,” the Human Rights Commission wrote in a statement after the incident.
“His behavior is inexcusable and reprehensible,” the commission added. “And it is absolutely not protected under the law.”