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Teach This: When Is a Repeal Really a Repeal?

Today, the North Carolina legislature debates what’s being called a repeal of the controversial “bathroom bill.” But is it really a repeal? Explore this question with your students.

 

Today North Carolina lawmakers voted to pass House Bill 142 (HB142), legislation its authors say will repeal House Bill 2 (HB2), the controversial state law that came to be known as the “bathroom bill.” HB142 then went to Governor Roy Cooper who signed it into law.

HB2 prohibits the use of public facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms by anyone whose sex assigned at birth does not match the designation of the facility. For example, HB2 prohibits transgender boys from using the boys’ restroom at school. HB2 also blocks local non-discrimination ordinances, like one in Charlotte that would have protected LGBT people from discrimination in public facilities.

HB2 was widely criticized by LGBT activists, business owners and legal scholars who saw it as institutional discrimination and a violation of civil rights. The Associated Press estimated that HB2’s cost to the North Carolina economy approached $3.7 billon in lost financial opportunities, fueled in no small part by giants like PayPal and the NCAA, which publically denounced the bill and announced they would take their business elsewhere. In another example, the NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans because of the bill, taking with it a weekend’s worth of revenue what would have been a major boost to the city’s economy.

HB142 is being described by supporters as a compromise between Republican lawmakers and Gov. Cooper (who is a Democrat). But LGBT advocacy organizations have uniformly stated that calling the deal a “repeal” of HB2 is inaccurate and does not mitigate potential harm to LGBT individuals. Among their concerns: The bill prohibits state actors (such as public universities, community colleges, local school boards, state agencies and others) from issuing any rules related to restrooms, showers or changing areas that accommodate multiple users. It also bans towns and municipalities from enacting or amending local anti-discrimination ordinances for four years.

Consider taking advantage of this timely debate and inviting your students into the conversation. Regardless of how they feel about HB2, give them an opportunity to read and interpret the legal documents, news coverage and statements from those who drafted HB142—and those who oppose it.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Compare and contrast the two bills. How are they similar? How are they different? (This is an opportunity for students to make a Venn diagram, chart or other visual representation to show their knowledge.)
  2. The impact of HB2 on North Carolina’s economy was a major consideration in the legislature’s second attempt at this bill. And economic resistance has long been a successful tactic for civil rights activists. What are some other examples of economic resistance?
  3. Which sections of this bill would contribute to opposition from the LGBT community and its allies? Which sections of the bill would contribute to opposition from HB2 proponents?
  4. Is HB142 a repeal of HB2? Why or why not?

Additional Resources:

Text of House Bill 2

Text of House Bill 142

North Carolina’s Love of College Sports Spurred Move to Repeal Bathroom Law

Don’t Be Fooled by North Carolina, There Is No Repeal of the Anti-Trans HB2, Only More Discrimination

Tell Transgender Students: We’re Still Here for You

Dispelling Six Myths About Transgender Identity

Being There for Nonbinary Youth

As 'Bathroom Bill' Debates Heat Up, Transgender People Die

 

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