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In North Carolina, Struggle Against HB 2 Continues

Raleigh rally

Activists rallied Wednesday for repeal, while the Charlotte public schools make a trans-inclusive move.

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The Orlando massacre and attempts to limit gun access are dominating the LGBT news cycle at The Advocate and elsewhere, but other struggles continue -- including North Carolinians' effort to repeal the anti-LGBT House Bill 2 or at least mitigate its effects.

Opponents of the law rallied in Wednesday in Raleigh, the state capital, demanding an end to HB 2. Passed in March in reaction to Charlotte's LGBT-inclusive public accommodations ordinance, HB 2 strikes down any local ordinances that ban anti-LGBT discrimination and prevents cities and counties from enacting new ones. It also bars transgender people from using restrooms, locker rooms, and other single-sex facilities matching their gender identity, when those are located in government buildings.

"I am not standing out here in the North Carolina heat to ask you or beg you, I'm demanding that you repeal HB 2 and to do it now!" said North Carolina transgender advocate Candis Cox as she faced the state legislature's building, according to a blog post from the Human Rights Campaign, one of the organizers of the Rally Against Hate. Hundreds attended the event, the HRC reports.

The rally's emcee was state Rep. Chris Sgro, a gay man who is the only openly LGBT member of the legislature. He invoked the Pulse nightclub tragedy in calling for LGBT equality, notes Raleigh TV station WTVD (see its coverage below). "We have just seen in Orlando what discrimination against the LGBT community can result in as the ultimate act of violence," he said. "We need to be careful with our words and with our policy."

Speakers also included LGBT-supportive clergy members, including Wasif Qureshi, imam of the Islamic Center of Greensboro. He denounced anti-Muslim rhetoric (the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, was Muslim), and attempts to pit minority groups against one another, according to the HRC blog. "I pray during this month of Ramadan that this spirit brings us together, unifies us around the common goal of repealing HB 2," he said.

Earlier this week, officials with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg public school system took a stand for inclusion when they adopted a policy on single-sex facilities that is the opposite of what HB 2 calls for, even though public schools are among the government buildings subject to the law. Under a new regulation released Monday, all schools must recognize transgender students' identities, including their preferred names and pronouns, and allow them to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, The Charlotte Observer reports.

Superintendent Ann Clark and school district attorney George Battle III said the policy, which does not require school board approval, was not adopted in defiance of HB 2 but rather to follow a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which includes North Carolina. Federal law does indeed require that transgender students be allowed to use facilities corresponding with their gender identity, the court ruled in April in a case involving Virginia student Gavin Grimm.

"That's the law of the land for five states that are in the Fourth Circuit, North Carolina being one of those states," Battle told the Observer.

Some principals who attended a training session on the new regulation Monday were "confused and wary," the paper reports, but also said they were newly enlightened about transgender issues. "Until you really take some time to understand what it is to be transgender, you're just going to miss some things," said Mark Bosco, a high school principal.

And just today, another federal court ordered that Grimm be allowed to use the same restrooms as other boys at Gloucester High School when he returns for his senior year this fall. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which had initially rejected Grimm's request for equal access, was evidently pushed to reconsider by the appeals court's decision.

"I am elated to hear that I'll be able to attend my senior year of high school with my full rights restored," Grimm said in a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented him. "After nearly two years of humiliation and intense struggle, equality has finally prevailed. Now hopefully other transgender people will not have to face this type of discrimination." Indeed, legal experts have said Grimm's case will have far-reaching implications; read a recent Advocate commentary here, and watch videos about the North Carolina and Virginia cases below.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.