North Carolina has been in recent headlines due to its Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. The bill, commonly known as House Bill 2 or simply as the bathroom law, was passed March 23, 2015. It was enacted in a special legislative session called by Republican lawmakers to counter an ordinance that was going to be effective April 1 and ban discrimination based on sexual preference or gender identity in housing or public accommodations. The bill was signed by Governor Pat McCrory the same day, less than 12 hours after it had been introduced and passed by the House and the Senate. The bill passed in the House 83-25 and in the Senate 32-0 after the Democratic members left in protest.
The new bill prevents local governments from establishing their own laws regarding discrimination against gender identity and sexual orientation in public areas. The state discrimination laws, as currently stated, do not protect the LGBTQ community. The main component of this bill requires transgender people to use the bathroom designated for the gender that is stated on their birth certificates in the cases of multiple-occupancy bathrooms in public schools and government agencies. Individuals would be allowed to use the bathroom of their preferred gender only if they change how it is stated on their birth certificate.
This bill has been met with significant backlash since it was passed. It has become a topic of discussion among presidential candidates. John Kasich publicly stated that he would not have signed the bill, and Donald Trump argued that this has never been as issue before so it should be left as it was. Ted Cruz disagrees with Trump, arguing that grown men should not be allowed to share a bathroom with women due to safety concerns for the women. Many famous artists such as Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr and Bruce Springsteen have cancelled upcoming shows in North Carolina to show their opposition to this bill. Large companies including American Airlines and PayPal have shown their disapproval for the act as well. The National Collegiate Athletic Association which had scheduled its men’s tournaments for 2017 and 2018 to be held in North Carolina, has expressed its disapproval of the new law and will be closely monitoring the actions of the state.
Aside from the negative connotation that now surrounds the state, North Carolina is also at legal risk. The Human Rights Campaign has accused North Carolina of violating Title IX, and the state may lose $4.5 billion of federal funding.
Another session that was held April 25 was disrupted by protesters. The session was held to discuss a possible repeal but ended early due to protests throughout the building. A total of 54 people were arrested throughout the session with charges of trespassing, violating fire codes and refusing to leave the premises.