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Advocates Push Back Against Harmful Anti-LGBTQ+ Measures in Virtual Town Hall

Source: EdNC

In response to several discriminatory laws passed in North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) and Equality NC held a virtual town hall on supporting young LGBTQ+ North Carolinians. 

“As we know, overall, all of this feels really confusing for educators, for school staff, and very scary for students,” stated Brennan Lewis, education policy associate for Equality NC, during the town hall. “So I want to emphasize the impact that these bills are already having on individual schools. We know that teachers and school staff are already overburdened, overworked, and underpaid.”

The virtual town hall comes weeks after CSE filed a civil rights complaint against North Carolina’s “Don’t Say Gay” law and anti-trans youth participation legislation. The group alleges that these recent measures violate rights protected by Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in educational settings based on sex.

According to EdNC, the complaint includes 24 testimonials from parents, students, teachers, and more, alleging harm, creation of an unsafe environment, and discrimination due to these measures.

Excerpts from the testimonials include:

  • A school administrator testified: “Following SB 49 would require us to eliminate the majority of the comprehensive health education program in grades K-4. Censoring these pivotal topics for our younger students, especially gender identity, will create an environment where students and families are misunderstood by their peers and excluded from the daily affirmations all students deserve. A critical consequence of eliminating this instruction for families and staff will be increased misunderstandings that affect a hostile classroom environment. As a result, the risk for adverse mental health consequences like depression, anxiety, and even self-harm and suicide among students increases substantially.”
  • A school social worker testified: “It is unfortunate that I am experiencing barriers to providing behavioral health services in schools because I refuse to go against my ethics and break a client’s confidentiality. This bill is incredibly scary and does not take into account many statistics surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community, such as increased suicide and self-harm rates when they are outed in their community. We are ultimately harming students, and the effects of this bill should be taken into consideration.”
  • A parent testified: “HB574 has been directly impactful. Our daughter was looking forward to swimming for [redacted] as a freshman and making new friends. Prior to this year, she swam at the local swim club where she was friends with many of the other swimmers, many of whom didn’t know she was trans. Naturally, some of those friends were in her class or already in high school and it forced her to have an explanation for why she wasn’t swimming for the high school since she wasn’t comfortable telling many of them the real reason. Moreover, she is denied the ability to represent her school in swimming, something that would have been a point of pride.”

“The state’s public education system is now clouded by fear, discrimination, and censorship that interferes with students’ ability to learn,” Craig White, Supportive Schools Director at Campaign for Southern Equality, told Spectrum News. “It is time for school districts to stop implementing S.B. 49 – because the anti-LGBTQ+ policies that this law requires are patently incompatible with the Title IX protections to which every LGBTQ+ student is entitled.”


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