Commentary, News

U.S. Secretary of Education labels HB2 “hateful” as pressure mounts for repeal (video)

U.S.  Education Secretary John Kelly is the latest high-profile figure to weigh-in on North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law known as HB2.

Speaking to a group of education reporters in Boston on Monday, King said the legislation deserved to be repealed:

“They are hateful laws and should be repealed,” King told the Education Writers Association conference in Boston on Monday. He said the laws send “a deeply problematic message to young people in schools, and should be changed.”

WRAL.com reports that King stopped short of mentioning the loss of federal funds, though made it clear the federal government wants the state legislature to address the law that prevents transgender students from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

Last week, NC Policy Watch education reporter Billy Ball reported on the emotional impact the law was having on transgender youth and profiled a 17-year-old student at N.C. School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.

Over the weekend, we sat down with Hunter Schafer’s mother, Katy Schafer, to discuss her thoughts on HB2 and what lawmakers are failing to understand as they try to justify the discriminatory measure they rushed through in March.

Click below the hear an excerpt from our interview with Katy Schafer. A podcast of our full interview along with Chris Brook of the ACLU of North Carolina can be heard here.

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Commentary, News

Six things to have on your radar this week

 #1 – Budget work begins this week – Starting Tuesday morning multiple House Appropriations Subcommittees will begin reviewing Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed budget, available resources and the state’s needs.

The good folks at the North Carolina Budget & Tax Center have done a thorough review of Gov.  McCrory’s spending plan and it’s well worth a review of their analysis as budget talks begin:

You can check out the full Legislative Calendar here.

#2 – A closer look at opiate overdoses – Members of the Senate Committee on Health Care will discuss legislation (Senate Bill 734) Tuesday that would authorize the state health director to prescribe treatment for an overdose with an “opioid antagonist” such as naloxone hydrochloride, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of drug overdoses.

Under this statewide standing order, a family member or friend attempting to assist the person at risk of experiencing an opiate?related overdose would be granted immunity from civil and criminal liability.

This bill is getting a closer look after a study released last week found that four towns in North Carolina are on the top 20 list for opioid abuse. Wilmington leads nation in opioid abuse.

The Health Care Committee meets at 11:00 a.m in Room 544 of the Legislative Office Building.

#3 – Statewide mobile billboard tour targeting Senator Burr – President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, is among the most qualified people ever to be nominated to the High Court, according to legal observers.

However Sen. Richard Burr and other Senate Republican have made it clear that Judge Garland will not receive a hearing While President Obama remains in office.

This week Progress North Carolina Action will kick off a mobile billboard tour to demand that North Carolina U.S. Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis do their jobs, meet with Garland, and hold a hearing on the nomination.

Events this week will be held at the following times and locations:burrbillboard

Wednesday, May 4th @ noon – Pearl Street Park

1200 Baxter St, Charlotte, North Carolina

Wednesday, May 4th @ 5:00 p.m. – Pack Square Park
Asheville, North Carolina

Thursday, May 5th @ noon – Guilford County Courthouse
201 S Eugene St, Greensboro, North Carolina

Friday, May 6th @ 3:00 p.m. – Governor’s Mansion
200 N Blount St, Raleigh, North Carolina

Saturday, May 7th @ 4:00 p.m. – Pitt County Courthouse

N 3rd St Between Washington and S Evan St, Greenville, North Carolina

#4. – North Carolina Republican Party State Convention (Friday-Sunday, Greensboro)

Just days after the state GOP replaced its first African-American chairman with former chair Robin Hayes, the party faithful convene in Greensboro for the 2016 North Carolina Republican Party State Convention.

Members will discuss their party platform and the selection of delegates to attend the Republican National Convention this July in Cleveland, OH. North Carolina will be sending 72 Delegates and 69 Alternate Delegates to represent the state.

For more on the Republican Party State Convention, visit: http://ncgopconvention.com/2016-convention-information/agenda/OutRaleigh

#5. – Out! Raleigh to Celebrate Sixth YearOut! Raleigh, the Triangle’s premier outdoor, family-friendly festival recognizing the area’sLGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community and its allies, will return for a sixth year on Saturday in downtown Raleigh.

Last year’s festival brought over 30,000 attendees to town. This year’s festival, themed “#GoAllOUT”, could be much larger with all the focus on the anti-LGBT law HB2, signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in March.

The Sixth Annual Out! Raleigh Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday along Fayetteville Street in Raleigh. More information is available at http://www.outraleigh.org/

#6. – Graduation weekend for NC State University and UNC-CH Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

Thousands of graduates will be picking-up their college diplomas this weekend.

First on Saturday in Raleigh:

adminralAdmiral Michelle Howard, vice chief of naval operations, will deliver NC State’s commencement address on Saturday at 9 a.m. in the PNC Arena in Raleigh.

Howard, the second most senior officer in the U.S. Navy, has served at sea since 1982. She became the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, USS Rushmore, in 1999.
And on Sunday at UNC-Chapel Hill:

slaughterAnne-Marie Slaughter, critically acclaimed author and trailblazing public leader, who made waves with her groundbreaking 2012 article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” will deliver the Commencement address at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on May 8.

A provocative speaker, Slaughter is also a foreign policy expert and public commentator. “Why Women Can’t Have it All,” which was published in The Atlantic, became the most read piece in the history of the magazine. It sparked a renewed national debate about the continued obstacles to genuine full male-female equality, ultimately spawning her 2015 book “Unfinished Business.”

Slaughter is currently the President and CEO of New America, a non-partisan think tank.

Spring Commencement will be held at 9 a.m. in Kenan Memorial Stadium.

Commentary, News

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

hb2-xgr31. Why McCrory and Berger have already lost the debate over HB2
Regardless of what happens in the new legislative session, North Carolina’s “brand” is badly damaged for the foreseeable future

It’s funny how politics and policy debates work. For five years, politicians with a destructive and reactionary agenda have been taking a wrecking ball to the once forward-looking state of North Carolina to relatively little national note. As was detailed at length last December in the special NC Policy Watch report, Altered State: How 5 years of conservative rule have transformed North Carolina, the list of subjects in which once moderate-to-progressive laws and policies have been razed and reversed is as long as your arm. Taxes, health care, civil rights, the social safety net, environmental protection, reproductive freedom, voting rights, consumer protection, LGBT rights; name the topic and North Carolina has moved backward.

Now, however, with arrival of HB2, everything has changed. Despite the obvious expectations of the sponsors of the now infamous state discrimination law that their actions would stir up a burst of energy and enthusiasm amongst conservative true believers for designated political candidates, provoke some grumblings from progressives and then fade away, the opposite has occurred.[Continue reading…]

Hunter2. NCPW Q&A: Meet the trans youth taking a stand against Gov. Pat McCrory and House Bill 2
Freshman year of high school is, for some people, already an uphill climb.
It was a different challenge altogether for Hunter Schafer, a Raleigh teenager who says she came out just before ninth grade and immediately began transitioning. By her sophomore year, Schafer had adopted female pronouns and began using the women’s restroom at school.
Today, she’s a proud transgender advocate, a visual artist at N.C. School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, and the latest addition to a pivotal legal challenge for North Carolina’s House Bill 2.
[Continue reading…]

Bonus read: Unvalued and unprotected: How HB2 increases the pressure on North Carolina’s LGBTQ students

Read more

Commentary, News

Was the intent of HB2 to ‘keep our state straight’ ? (video)

A day after opponents and supporters of House Bill 2 held their respective rallies at the legislature, the focus is on a single comment made by Senator Buck Newton.

The Wilson County Senator, who is a Republican candidate vying to become the state’s next  Attorney General, told the audience in his closing remarks:

“Tell your friends and family who had to work today what this is all about and how hard we must fight to keep our state straight.”

Chris Brook, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina, says based on those remarks it’s clear HB2 is an attempt to marginalize the entire LGBT community in North Carolina.
YouTube Preview Image Newton attempted to clarify his remarks Tuesday saying he simply meant that men should not be allowed to enter a ladies’ bathroom. He told the Raleigh News & Observer:

“I don’t know how they made that connection,” he said. “I never mentioned anything about homosexuality.”

Josh Stein, who is challenging Newton in the Attorney General’s race, said via Facebook that Newton’s comments simply have no place in North Carolina.

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Click below to hear Senator Newton in his own words:

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