If you live in Massachusetts, the midterm elections aren't the only thing to keep an eye on this fall.
In addition to determining Senate, House, and gubernatorial races, voters in The Bay State will decide in November whether to overturn a 2016 law allowing people to use bathrooms and locker rooms for the gender with which they say they identify. Andrew Beckwith, president of Massachusetts Family Institute, says the law puts women and children at risk of sexual predators who take advantage of the policy.
Pointing to a nationwide study this year by the group Woman Means Something, Beckwith says incidents in Target stores are all the more reason for repeal.
"A couple of years ago, Target very publicly changed their store policy across the country to say if you feel like a woman, you can use the women's restroom or changing room," he explains. "The study looked at the incidents of voyeurism or up-skirting or illegal photographing that happened in Target stores, and what they found is there was a real uptick after that policy was announced."
According to researchers, which looked at the numbers before and after the policy was announced, there was a two-fold increase of voyeurism and up-skirting.
A voter referendum on the law this fall was made possible after an organization known as Keep MA Safe gathered more than 50,000 signatures in 45 days. Massachusetts Family Institute participated in the effort.
"We did it primarily with volunteers going out and explaining the situation and getting signatures," Beckwith shares, adding that when people learn what the law actually does, they're ready to vote for repeal. He explains:
"[Under this law] the definition of 'gender identity' doesn't require surgery or hormones or a doctor's notice," he says. "[It's] just based purely on how one feels on the inside. It doesn't even have to be consistently held – someone could be a man all day until he decides he's a woman right before walking into a women's bathroom."
And according to Beckwith, if anyone tries to oppose or stop that person from going into the bathroom they want to go into, they can be sued for up to $50,000 or face a year in jail as a civil rights violation.
"Prayer is very important in a situation like this, because we are going to be radically out-funded," he concludes. "The media is very much on the side of keeping this law in place, regardless of its impact on privacy and safety."