In response to discriminatory policies enacted by House Bill 2, the NCAA announced this Monday that they will relocate all championship games previously scheduled to take place in North Carolina this academic year. The NCAA Board of Governors explicitly cited “cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections” as impetus for this decision – a decision which economic development officials say will amount to a projected $20 million in lost revenue for North Carolina. As private companies actively disengage from North Carolina’s public sector in response to the bill, our political citizenship as a student body (encompassing individuals directly affected by this legislature) must be re-evaluated and re-heightened.
Denouncement of the piece of legislation in question has stemmed from both the process by which it was enacted as well as the content of the legislation itself. Last March, North Carolina State Legislature held a special session on the bill, and within 24 hours, the bill was signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory. The bill not only forces transgender students to use bathrooms or locker rooms of the gender they were assigned at birth, but also changes how people can pursue claims of workplace discrimination. The bill “expressly pre-empted all municipal and county ordinances or policies broader than the official state anti-discrimination statute,” which does not include sexual orientation or gender identity among the list of prohibited bases of discrimination. An often forgotten caveat, the bill also serves to prevents cities and counties from establishing minimum wage benchmarks for private employers, setting the minimum wage at or lower than the state’s mandated minimum.
Governor McCrory as the foremost executive and political leader of the state has remained steadfast in his support of the bill, and as his bid for re-election approaches on November 8, House Bill 2 must be present in the minds of voters preparing to decide on a state leader. Since August, Democratic candidate Roy Cooper has enjoyed an uninterrupted advantage in polls and is several points ahead. His advantage may be due to a loss of revenue from companies such as Paypal and Deutsche Bank (and now the NCAA) in response to House Bill 2. Certainly, for voters eager to repeal the bill, the upcoming election provides a meaningful platform for continued criticism of North Carolina’s support for the legislation. The NCAA has effectively prodded the state to rethink its backing of the bill, and in the face of the upcoming elections, this can only provide leverage to McCrory's opposition.
While we welcome the weight behind the NCAA’s decision and the re-engaged media attention it enacted, we hope students and advocates alike do not rely on such headlines to engage with meaningful social issues. Private companies and public figures have larger platforms on which to advocate against House Bill 2, but this does not mean their statements and actions must be the only public opposition. All citizens must engage in political discourse. We must be cognizant of the significant social capital gained by private entities in support of social justice. While the ends are admirable, it serves our student body well to keep wary of the means and continue to actively pursue our own causes.
We need to support one another. In tandem with executive motions against House Bill 2, we must engage in political citizenship, or else endure the price of negligence and the continuation of discrimination.
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