HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A national group is threatening to boycott the City of Myrtle Beach because of the debate over transgender bathroom use within Horry County Schools.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, known as GLAAD, has led boycotts against Chick-Fil-A, hotels and even Donald Trump in the past. The activist group has turned its attention to the Grand Strand after hearing about the ongoing Title IX battle here in Horry County
The school board is in the process of writing a brief explaining why they disagree with a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. Just last week, the board hesitantly decided to follow those guidelines. The board is currently in the process of writing a brief to over-turn the ruling for Horry County.
The latest move to challenge the ruling is seen by GLAAD as another slight against LGBTQ people. Zeke Stokes is a South Carolina native and Vice President of GLAAD Programs. He released this statement on behalf of the organization: "GLAAD and our partners are prepared to lead a national boycott of Myrtle Beach should the Horry County school board take any action that would reverse the decision that has already been announced or perpetuate any further discrimination against this student or others."
The group's threats of a boycott against Myrtle Beach has leaders asking why? Myrtle Beach has anti-discrimination laws and city leaders say they hope no one boycotts the city. Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said, "I would hope an organization could separate one institution from another. [It's] not Myrtle Beach taking the stand, it's Horry County schools…which is not related to the tourist destination that everybody loves. Don't…I would hope groups wouldn't over-shoot their targets in taking a stand."
City leaders are puzzled as to why a boycott is being discussed against a city not related the Horry County School Board's decisions.
When it comes to tourism, Brad Dean, the President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said because the issue is with Horry County School Board and federal law, he doesn't expect tourism numbers to drop.
A meeting concerning LGBTQ rights was already scheduled for today, but the timing couldn't be better for the group discussion. The Coastal Business Guild is hosting a "lunch and learn" update on some of South Carolina's bills going through legislation.
The guild is for business-owners and customers who support and provide an inclusive atmosphere. SC Equality board chair Jeff Ayers is speaking at the meeting.
Ayers says topics will include current status of where the state is in terms of equality, the 11 anti-LGBTQ bills successfully fought off by rights groups and the Horry County school board situation.
Senator Lee Bright is the sponsor several bills LGBTQ groups are against. But, Senator Bright has gained the most notoriety from the Senate bill stating transgender people must use the public bathroom of their biological sex. Senator Bright said he doesn't see his bill passing this year, so he's trying to work it into a proviso in the budget.
Ayers has taken a firm stance against the idea of restricting bathroom usage for transgender people.
"It's a lot of fear mongering going on, a lot of misinformation, I don't think anyone in Horry County or throughout the state can show us any evidence where a transgender student has violated the law using the restroom," Ayers said.
The Coastal Business Guild is from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Myrtle Beach. The address is 101 Fantasy Harbour Boulevard.
It's free for guild members but costs $5 dollars for non-members.
There is another Horry County School board meeting Wednesday but the transgender bathroom policy is not on the agenda.