HILLSBOROUGH, North Carolina—I’m sorry, but someone has got to teach North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory a few basic “etiquette” lessons. He has referenced the term repeatedly since signing HB2 (the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act) last week, the sweeping anti-LGBT law that blocked the city of Charlotte—and all other local governments in the state—from protecting transgender people’s right to use the public restrooms that match their gender identities. Alas, the governor’s understanding of good etiquette is more invented than found in any of the dozens of manners books sitting in my bookcases.
In a tweet posted soon after the signing, McCrory claimed that blocking the anti-discrimination law was necessary “to stop the breach of basic privacy and etiquette.” A few days later, he told NBC News, “We’ve had these proper-etiquette situations for decades in our country, and all of a sudden, through political correctness, we’re throwing away basic etiquette.”
I spent hours this past week looking for insight in the pages of my book collection, with little success. The late Amy Vanderbilt, in her Complete Book of Etiquette, originally published in 1952, addresses “bathrooms and etiquette,” but the only topics there are “care of by weekend guest” (“leave it as you found it or better”) and “gift suggestions for” (“bath salts and bath mitts, if they are not from the bargain counter in a drug store”). Emily Post’s latest edition just mentions restrooms on the matters of “tipping attendants” and “excusing self to visit.”