Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed three bills affecting the LGBTQ+ community on July 5, which would have placed restrictions on transgender athletes, discussions about gender identity and sexuality in elementary schools and gender-affirming care for minors.
However, political experts expect the Republican supermajority in the North Carolina General Assembly to override Cooper’s vetoes and pass the bills into law. The NCGA has already overridden 10 bills this session.
“Republicans are serving up a triple threat of political culture wars using government to invade the rights and responsibilities of parents and doctors, hurting vulnerable children and damaging our state’s reputation and economy,” Cooper wrote in his veto message.
“Instead of scheming for the next election, Republicans should get to work investing in our public schools and teachers, lowering the cost of living and creating more stability for middle class families,” he continued.
Ban on transgender female athletes
Titled the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” House Bill 574 would prohibit students “of the male sex” from playing on middle, high school and collegiate athletic teams “designated for females, women, or girls.” The bill would apply to private colleges and universities, including Duke.
The ban would only apply to college-level women’s sports teams that are part of an “intercollegiate athletic program” like the National Collegiate Athletic Association, but would not apply to collegiate intramural sports. Current NCAA policy allows transgender student athletes to compete in women’s sports if they meet certain sport-specific standards, including documented testosterone levels. The bill would trump NCAA policy.
Historically, transgender athletes have played on Duke women’s intercollegiate sports teams. Duke’s most notable transgender athlete is Quinn, Trinity ‘17, who played on the Duke women’s soccer team. The Toronto native made history during the 2020 Olympic Games when they became the first openly transgender and non-binary athlete ever to win an Olympic gold medal.
Restrictions on school curriculums
Senate Bill 49, the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” would ban curriculum on gender identity, sexual activity or sexuality in all North Carolinian public schools from kindergarten through fourth grade. Teachers and school employees would be required to notify parents if their children change their names or pronouns on school records, leading to concerns from some activists that the bill could “out” LGBTQ+ children.
Cooper called the proposal a “Don’t Say Gay” bill, given its similarities to a law passed in Florida that drew national attention. Republicans have pushed back on Cooper’s characterization, contending that the bill would give parents more control over their children’s education.
The bill would also require schools to make educational materials available for parental review and allow parents to see what books their child has borrowed from the school’s library.
Restrictions on gender-affirming care
House Bill 808 would ban surgical gender transition procedures and puberty blockers for minors, with some limited exceptions, such as for children with sex development disorders. Doctors violating the law would face penalties such as having their medical licenses revoked.
If the bill passes into law, North Carolina would join 20 other states in banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth. The neighboring states of South Carolina and Virginia do not currently have similar restrictions, meaning North Carolinians can travel across state lines to receive care.
In his veto message, Cooper wrote the bill would force doctors to “stop following approved medical protocols,” and contended that the state should “continue to let parents and medical professionals make decisions about the best way to offer gender care for their children.”
Republican state Sen. Joyce Krawiec responded to Cooper, accusing him of “turning a blind eye to the protection of children.”
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Jazper Lu is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.