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Religious Tolerance logo


The religious freedom to discriminate against
transgender persons in North Carolina:

Part 3

2016-MAR to JUN: HB 2's hidden effects.
The 4th Federal Court of Appeals rules
in favor of a VA transgender student.
Reactions to HB2.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Buck Angel Buck Angel is a female-to-male (FTM) transsexual and film producer. He was identified at birth as female.

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Protest against North Carolina HB 2 law

Protest against the HB 2 law

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The hidden effects of the new law:

The bill had more than a dozen immediate impacts on people in North Carolina, most of which are unrelated to the transgender/washroom access matter:

  1. It repealed Charlotte's amendment to its human rights ordinance that had briefly extended protection to heterosexuals and to the entire LGBT community on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

  2. It established a statewide definition of classes of people who are protected against discrimination. This applies to state human rights legislation, and to city human rights ordinances. People throughout North Carolina can only be protected on the basis of their biological sex as stated on a person's birth certificate, or their race, religion, skin color, national origin, age, or handicap.

  3. It prohibits any other city from passing a future ordinance that protects the LGBT community. That is, it prohibits the protection of people on the basis of their sexual orientation as well as on the basis of their gender identity if the latter differs from the person's birth-identified gender. This strips the possibility of human rights protection from lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, and transgender persons.

  4. It nullified all existing city human rights ordinances across the state that had included protections for the LGBT community. There were more than a dozen cities with such ordinances, including Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, and of course Charlotte.

  5. The bill further requires that students in all North Carolina public schools must use bathrooms corresponding to their birth certificate's statement of gender.

  6. It prohibits cities from enacting a minimum wage that is higher than the state's.

  7. It strips protection from all employees in the state so that if they are discriminated against on the basis of their religion, gender, skin color, race, etc. they cannot file a lawsuit in a state court to obtain equal treatment.

Rick Glazier, Executive Director of the NC Justice Center has prepared a list of 18 questions and answers about HB 2. Some are:

  • HB 2 eliminates any state law claim for wrongful termination of an employee on the basis of the color of a person's skin, national origin, ethnicity, or religion.

  • HB 2 eliminates any state law claim by women who have been demoted, transferred or terminated from their job beause they are women.

  • HB 2 overturns local ordinances that protect members of the LGBT community, and prohibits municipalities from passing such ordinances in the future.

  • HB 2 overturned existing local ordinances that established minimum wage standards for public-sector contractors.

The state GOP, and most state secular and religious media sources focused on the transgender access aspects of HB 2. They largely or completely ignored the other major impacts on human rights in North Carolina. Most of these auxiliary effects of the bill are probably not generally known to the public. The law's provision to discriminate against transgender individuals and transsexuals might have been used as a smoke screen while the real intent of the bill was to also allow discrimination to flourish throughout the state. 1

This is one more indication that it is important for people to tap into both conservative and liberal media in order to obtain an accurate assessment of changes in their state and country. Unfortunately, many conservative adults read, listen to, and trust only conservative media sources, while many liberal adults tap into only liberal media sources.

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2016-APR-19: The federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rules against discrimination of transgender persons in Virginia public schools:

Gavin Grimm is a transgender high school student in Virginia -- the state immediately North of North Carolina. He was identified as a female at birth, and currently identifies as male. The Gloucester County School Board required him to use the female bathroom that matched his birth-identified or biological gender.

As usual, there is a difference in belief between:

  • religious, social, and political conservatives who believe that laws that ban discrimination based upon sex applies only to a person's birth-identified sex, and

  • religious, social, and political liberals who believe that these laws also protect transgender persons by also banning discrimination based on a persons current gender identity.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the U.S. Department of Education can ban such discrimination against transgender persons under federal Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. 6 Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities.

In a landmark, precedence setting ruling, the Fourth U.S. Court of Appeal ruled that Gavin's rights to be considered male are protected under the federal Title IX education law which bans sex-based discrimination. He can freely use the male washrooms at school that match his current gender identity.

The geographical area in which the Fourth U.S. Court of Appeal has jurisdiction covers four states: West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Thus, this decision that directly affects a Virginia School Board may eventually also have an impact on the treatment of transgender students in Virginia and the two other states. This might limit the application of House Bill 2 in North Carolina. If the Court of Appeals is upheld on appeal, then it could extend bans on discrimination based on sex in the federal Civil Rights Act and Fair Housing Acts so that they would protects transgender persons as well across the entire United States. 2

About two months later, on JUN-23, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which had initially rejected Grimm’s request for recognition of his gender identity, reconsidered its original ruling as a result of the Court of Appeal's ruling. They reversed their ruling and ordered that Gavin Grimm be allowed to use the same restroom facilities as other boys at his Gloucester High School. Gavin said:

"I am elated to hear that I'll be able to attend my senior year of high school with my full rights restored. 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." 3

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2016-MAR to JUN: Some negative reactions to HB 2:

  • On MAR 24, Director Ben Needham of Project One America -- a program of the pro-LGBT group: Human Rights Campaign -- wrote an email to their mailing list. It was headed by an image of the United States in red on a black background. A message in white says: "NO HATE IN MY STATE." The email said, in part:

    "Horrified, angered, shocked.

    That's how I feel when I think about the impact of the discriminatory laws that are passing. This issue is very personal for me since I have good friends in North Carolina, where discriminatory legislation was just recently passed. 

    Not only is this scary, but it's dangerous. ..."

    "A transgender student seeking counseling could be denied treatment... a gay kid in foster care could be forced to undergo conversion therapy... a lesbian and her wife could be turned away from emergency services at a faith-based shelter... the list goes on. ..."

    "This horrific legislation writes anti-LGBT discrimination into law and revokes the ability of people to sue their employer for discriminatory behavior based on their race, religion, the color of their skin, or their national origin!  4 [Emphasis by us]

  • Protest at Asheville, NC Photograph taken from a demonstration against HB 2 in Asheville, NC

  • In an unrelated event, on JUN-12, a lone shooter massacred 49 patrons at the Pulse LGBT nightclub and wounded 53 others in Orlando, FL. This was the largest mass shooting in recent U.S. history and rivaled -- in terms of loss of life -- some of the larger massacres of Native Americans by the federal government during the 19th century. This tragedy was still being reported in various media later in June when:

  • On JUN-21, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg public school system adopted a policy on single-sex facilities that opposes the requirements of HB 2 but meets the requirement of the Fourth U.S. Court of Appeal described above. The Charlotte Observer reported that all of the schools in their system are required to recognize transgender students’ identities, including the use of their preferred names and pronouns. They are free to use the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.

    School district attorney George Battle III said that Court's ruling is:

    "... the law of the land for five states that are in the Fourth Circuit, North Carolina being one of those states.

  • On JUN-22 opponents to HB 2 gathered at the state capital in Raleigh NC to protest is passage by the Legislature. 3 The rally was organized by the Human Rights Campaign and other human rights and LGBT groups.

State Rep Chris Sgro (D), who is also the Executive Director of Equality NC and also the only open representative in the North Carolina Legislature, led the rally. He told the crowd:

"We have just seen in Orlando what discrimination against the LGBT community can result in as the ultimate act of violence. We need to be careful with our words and with our policy."

Candis Cox, a transgender advocate, said:

"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!"

Wasif Qureshi, imam of the Islamic Center of Greensboro, said:

"I pray during this month of Ramadan that this spirit brings us together, unifies us around the common goal of repealing HB 2." 3

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim year, when followers of Islam believe that God first sent the Angel Gabriel to reveal part of the Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. David A Graham, "North Carolina Overturns LGBT-Discrimination Bans," The Atlantic, 2016-MAR-24, at: http://www.theatlantic.com/
  2. German Lopez, "In landmark ruling, federal appeals court upholds protection for transgender student," Vox Media, 2016-APR-19, at: http://www.vox.com/
  3. Trudy Ring, "In North Carolina, Struggle Against HB 2 Continues," 2016-JUN-24, at: http://www.advocate.com/
  4. Email from Ben Needham of the Human Rights Campaign to their mailing list, dated 2016-APR-24.
  5. Rick Glazier. "18 Questions, 18 Answers: The real facts behind House Bill 2," North Carolina Justice Center, 2016, at: http://www.ncjustice.org/
  6. "Title IX," Wikipedia, as on 2016-AUG-30, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-AUG-20
Latest update : 2016-AUG-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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