As a North Carolina native, the controversy of the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act – House Bill 2(HB2), also referred to as the “Bathroom Bill”, has sparked many difficult conversations, not only within the state, but also among the rest of the nation. HB2 states that individuals must use restrooms and other similar types of facilities that are designated for their biological sex (1). There has been a great deal of push back related to the bill because some believe that it is discriminatory towards people whose gender identity conflicts with that which is listed on their birth certificate.
You may be thinking, “What does HB2 have to do with higher education?” It actually has affected higher education in many ways. Firstly, the bill states that “local boards of education shall establish single sex multiple occupancy bathroom and changing facilities” (1). So the bill puts a responsibility on the local boards of education to ensure that there are physical spaces that separate biological males and biological females whether leadership within the universities themselves agree or disagree with the bill.
“There’s a lot more at issue in higher education than this particular issue. I mean, come on.” – UNC President Margaret Spellings (2)
There has also been a lot of conversation surrounding the fact that federal funds that are provided to universities could potentially be cut because of ties to the bill. It is reported that about $2 billion was spent using federal funds in relation to higher education and adult education in previous years (3). There is the potential for losses of grant funding and also Title IX money (3).
The bill has also affected college athletics. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has moved many games out of the North Carolina region. While Charlotte has often been a host to championship games, it is now being boycotted as a place to hold athletic events in protest of the bill.
In my personal opinion, the Bathroom Bill has put North Carolina Universities between a rock and a hard place. It seems like they don’t have a choice but to cooperate, however, funds could potentially be withdrawn due to discriminatory practices. I also think about the implications this bill has on the students. All students need to feel safe, however it is clear that the bill does not send a message of inclusiveness. Regardless of how one feels about the bill, I have a difficult time understanding why the bill needs to be put in place when there is not a way of enforcing it anyway. Are universities going to have guards at the front of the bathrooms asking for birth certificates?
(4) http://cdn.thedailybeast.com/content/dailybeast/articles/2016/05/13/real-americans-don-t-want-to-defend-toilets-the-gop-doesn-t-care-about-real-americans/jcr:content/image.img.2000.jpg/1471026206731.cached.jpg (photo)