Richard Brodhead, who serves as the president of Duke University, is the latest to call for the repeal of House Bill 2 in North Carolina.
HB 2 nullifies LGBT-inclusive municipal antidiscrimination ordinances, while preventing cities and counties from enacting new ones. It also bars transgender people from using the restrooms, locker rooms, and other single-sex facilities that match their gender identity, if those facilities are in government buildings, including public schools.
In a statement issued Monday, Brodhead condemned HB 2, which he stated "runs counter to the ideals of Duke University." He argued that the bill must be struck down.
"Duke University is committed to fostering an open, welcoming, inclusive community that respects each individual," Brodhead wrote. "We deplore in the strongest possible terms the new state law, HB2, that prevents municipalities from establishing laws that protect members of the LGBTQ+ community and others from discrimination and eliminates some economic advancement opportunities for underrepresented communities."
According to Brodhead, HB 2 has harmed North Carolina in numerous ways. "The economic and material impact is being felt across the state," he wrote.
Since the bill was passed on March 23, the New Civil Rights Movement reports that over 160 companies have condemned the legislation, including Facebook, Starbucks, Apple, and Microsoft. According to The Guardian, the Greater Raleigh Convention Center has already lost $2.2 million in cancelled bookings, after scheduled conventions pulled out of their conventions. The center could reportedly lose another $44 million in revenue.
In recent weeks, musicians like Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr have also yanked upcoming gigs in the Tar Heel State.
In addition to the corporate boycott, Brodhead argues that HB 2 could dissuade prospective students from going to college in North Carolina, with many "[voicing] concerns about whether they will find a hospitable environment in North Carolina." He wrote, "These developments have the potential to limit the value that Duke and other colleges and universities contribute to the state, namely producing trained graduates and expanding the frontiers of knowledge."
Duke's official statement offers a stark contrast to the University of North Carolina, which came out in support of HB 2. On April 7, university president Margaret Spellings sent an internal memo to faculty and staff urging them to abide by the policies set forth in the legislation. Thus, a transgender student using the public facilities at UNC would be denied access to the bathroom that most closely matches their gender identity.
"University institutions must require every multiple-occupancy bathroom and changing facility to be designated for and used only by persons based on their biological sex," the memo stated.
As The Advocate previously reported, the discrepancy between the Duke and UNC policies underscores the widespread confusion around enforcing HB 2. Because the bill lacks clear guidelines on implementation, school policy must be determined by individual administrators and presidents.