Are You Safe In Your State?

By CHELSEA JONES

North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act was signed by Governor McCrory on April 12th. The law targets transgender people and many of the LGBTQ community. This “Security Act” forces people to use the public restroom matching the sex on their birth certificate.

The law was created with “safety” in mind; to keep men in men’s bathrooms and women in women’s bathrooms. The law mandates that people use the bathroom of their gender at birth. Now transgender people who have even underwent a full sex change have to use the bathrooms of their biological gender. For example, someone who was born as a male, but fully transitioned to a woman, now has to use the men’s bathroom. The law cloaks itself under the gise of safety in order to limit the rights of transgender citizens.

This act is an attack on members of the LGBTQ community.  A Transgender citizen of North Carolina stated during an interview with the equal rights activist Rachel Percelay, “I think that a lot of leaders don’t understand what transgender is. They have created this sort of vilianized character of the transgender person”. These laws support ideas of discrimination towards the community, moving societal progress backwards.

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In addition these laws, also known as House Bill 2, banned anti-discrimination protection for gay and transgender people across the state. The laws now protect against discrimination of color, race, religion, origin, and biological sex, but not sexual orientation or gender identity. For example if someone lost their job for being gay, they would not have the right to bring it to court. These laws claim to prioritize the protection of citizens, however they are hypocritical, since thousands of citizens are now indefensible to discrimination.

So why was this law created? Does it actually prevent anything? Yes, it restricts the rights of the LGBTQ community. It limits the extent to which they were able to feel comfortable as themselves. It draws more attention to a situation that was becoming more regularly understood and accepted. Additionally victims of anti-discrimination via sexuality and gender, can no longer protect themselves. This Law was created to limit the rights of citizens.

The state’s inability to enforce these laws further illustrates the point that this act was created as a political statement against transgender people. Are police officers expected to patrol bathrooms? Are people supposed to show their birth certificate at the door? The measures of the law are unrealistic. In interviews with a North Carolina police department, Damien Graham stated “We haven’t mobilized our police department in any different way. Our staff, particularly our attorneys office, is trying to figure out what it all means” speaking about the Raleigh Police Department.

North Carolina’s new legislation is not only negatively affecting its citizens, but also the state’s economy. After this law was passed many businesses have decided to pull the plug on deals and developments within North Carolina. Even colleges in the state are worried about the impact of the bill on their staff and students.The president of The University of North Carolina expresses “concerns with what the law symbolizes and the chilling effect it’s having across the UNC system.”

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Paypal is a business with plans to develop within the city of Charlotte North Carolina, however Paypal, supports LGBTQ rights, and in a strong statement has withdrawn their plans, and the 400 jobs that would come with them. Executives from Apple, Starbucks, and Citibank as well as dozens of other companies signed a public letter to Governor McCrory, opposing the law. Bruce Springsteen and other musicians have gone as far as canceling tour stops in North Carolina to show their opposition to the bill.

Predictions are coming in that North Carolina’s largest economic event, High point furniture Market, will be negatively impacted by these laws. This event brings an estimated $5 billion to the state’s economy every year. Now, with the attacking laws passed, many buyers and sellers are boycotting the event. Thousands of customers are refusing to attend.

Similar discriminating laws have been drafted or even passed throughout the country’s state governments. In Mississippi, House Bill 1523 was passed. This law allows business owners to deny service to people in order to “protect” their religious beliefs or morals. In Mississippi many are protesting, with signs reading “No Hate In My State”.

A discriminating bill has also been brought into Georgia’s State Legislature. Known as the “Free Exercise Protection Act”, the law states a pastor can not be forced to perform same sex marriages, also the bill would allow faith-based organizations to refuse to hire anyone who violates their faith.

These laws across America are targeting the LGBTQ. Joe Sosa, the President of Gay Straight Alliance in OHS, shared his opinion about these laws.“It is disgraceful how our federal government and various state governments create unjust, outdated and unconstitutional laws that prohibit basic human rights, founded solely on discrimination and narrow mindedness. The only way this oppression could be prevented and stopped for good is by standing together and making it known that what they are doing is unethical.”