| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Feb 23 U.S. companies led by tech
firms Yahoo Inc, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp
criticized the Trump administration's decision to
revoke Obama administration guidance that allowed transgender
public school students to use the bathroom of their choice.
Their statements evoked the opposition expressed by many
businesses last year when the state of North Carolina passed a
law that forces transgender people to use public restrooms
matching their gender assigned at birth.
The resulting boycotts have cost North Carolina more than
$560 million in economic activity, according to the online
magazine Facing South.
Companies lacked the same opportunity to protest with their
dollars in this instance, since the Trump administration action
pertains to schools, but still signaled they stood with the
Obama policy of using the federal government to expand
transgender civil rights.
"It's ultimately going to come down to the business
community to stop it because it's so bad for business," said
Christopher Gergen, chief executive of Forward Impact, an
entrepreneurial organization based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In unveiling the new direction on Wednesday, Trump
administration officials argued that transgender policies should
be an issue for the states to decide.
"The action taken by the administration is troubling and
goes against all that we believe in," Yahoo said in a statement.
Social conservatives have hailed the decision by the Justice
and Education departments to defer transgender bathroom policies
to the states, calling it a victory for privacy and traditional
But companies have tried to persuade state and local
governments to side with transgender people.
"We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and
we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated
as equals," Apple said in a statement.
Microsoft President Brad Smith looked to history as a guide,
referencing the date that the Emancipation Proclamation took
effect, when President Abraham Lincoln declared freedom for
"Since Jan. 1, 1863, the federal government has played a
vital role in protecting the rights of all Americans. Let's not
stop now," Smith said on Twitter.
In response to the North Carolina law, companies such as
Deutsche Bank and PayPal canceled expansion
plans, costing the state jobs.
By invoking states' rights, the Trump administration is
potentially emboldening legislatures in other states that are
considering laws similar to North Carolina's HB2.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)