Society

North Carolina Set To Repeal Controversial Bathroom Law

| by Robert Fowler

The North Carolina Legislature is set to repeal House Bill 2 (HB2), the controversial law that had mandated that state residents use public restrooms that strictly correspond with the gender on their birth certificate.

On Dec. 19, the Charlotte City Council voted to rescind a nondiscrimination law that had been passed earlier in the year. GOP lawmakers in North Carolina have asserted that that locality law was what had prompted them to pass HB2 in March, according to The Associated Press.

In exchange, the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature will hold a special session to repeal HB2, a controversial bill that had made the state the national focal point in the debate over transgender rights.

The special session be will be held on Dec. 20, signaling the end of a hotly contested law that had served as a pivotal source of discussion during North Carolina's election season. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, who had championed the bill and defended its passage, became the first gubernatorial incumbent in the state's history to lose re-election this past November.

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Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper of North Carolina, who had campaigned on repealing HB2, released a statement praising its imminent removal.

"Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state," Cooper said, according to Politico.  

Gov. McCrory released his own statement accusing Charlotte lawmakers and Cooper of using the issue as a political device.

"This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor's race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state," said McCrory's press secretary, Graham Wilson.

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HB2 had proven so divisive that it resulted in a large number of lucrative businesses to boycott North Carolina, costing the state millions of dollars in revenue. In his latest statement, McCrory appears to allocate blame for this not on his administration but on Charlotte, asserting that the city's non-discrimination laws had forced his hand to enact HB2.

While the law had cost North Carolina financially, it also proved divisive among the state's transgender residents, with many worried that it would endanger their safety.

"Every day I'm in dresses and tight clothing with a face full of makeup," 20-year-old Angie Mullowney, a transgender woman from North Carolina, told the Los Angeles Times. "If I were to use the men's room, I would be putting myself in ... a situation where I could be sexually assaulted, and there’s no way I’m going to be doing that."

While the issue may be drawing to a close in North Carolina for now, transgender bathroom rights is likely to remain a highly contested debate across the country. In 2016, the Obama administration circulated a guidance to public schools calling for transgender students to be allowed to use bathrooms that correspond with the gender they identify with, citing gender protections under Title IX.

President-elect Donald Trump has provided mixed comments on the issue, but many LGBTQ groups have voiced concern that his administration will rescind the guidance, plunging the entire country into the debate that has consumed North Carolina.

Sources: AP via ABC News, Los Angeles TimesPolitico / Photo credit: NCDOTCommunications/Flickr

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