Commentary

Today’s “must read” news story: The hate that helped fuel and sustain HB2

NO-HB2Be sure to check out a powerful news article that appears in this morning’s Charlotte Observer. In “Permission to hate: North Carolina doesn’t see a need to protect LGBTQ people. But we found victims whose stories say otherwise,” reporter Elizabeth Leland details the experiences of several LGBTQ North Carolinians who have been discriminated against, victimized and even subjected to violence merely because of who they are. What’s more, she finds, HB2 has made things much worse. Here is an excerpt:

“Since the passage of House Bill 2 on March 23, attention has focused on North Carolina and how it treats its estimated 336,000 LGBTQ residents.

HB2 was nicknamed “the bathroom bill” because it requires people to use restrooms in government-run buildings that correspond with the gender on their birth certificates – thus barring many transgender residents from public restrooms that match their identity.

But the law goes beyond bathrooms.

In what critics call the most anti-LGBTQ legislation ever enacted, HB2 abolished a Charlotte ordinance that added sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, the same as race, age, religion and gender. HB2 also banned local governments in the state from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances.

Gregory Herek, a psychology professor at the University of California-Davis who is an expert on anti-gay violence, said HB2 sends a broad symbolic message: ‘It’s conveying to people in the state who are LGBT that they are not full citizens.’

The new law, scholars and advocates believe, has given people permission to hate.”

The story goes on to, among other things, explore the obliviousness of HB2 sponsor Rep. Dan Bishop and Gov. McCrory for their insensitive and ignorant remarks about the reality of life for LGBTQ people.

“In defense of HB2, an expert witness for the state wrote in a court document that gender identity that doesn’t match gender at birth is a mental disorder which can be reversed with therapy.

Some elected officials have used similarly dismissive language. The author of HB2, State Rep. Dan Bishop of Charlotte, called transgender individuals ‘cross-dressers.’ McCrory referred to them as’“boys who may think they’re a girl.’

Multiple studies indicate that being a transgender person is not a choice. There is a biological basis. The American Psychiatric Association specifically states that ‘gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder.’”

The article concludes with a painfully detailed exploration of the stories of several individuals subjected to hate, discrimination and threats because of their sexual orientation — some of whom have ended up losing their lives. Let’s hope Gov. McCrory and other pro-HB2 politicians muster the courage to read this important work of journalism. Click here to read it yourself.

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