A Charlotte Observer special report investigated the extent of anti-LGBT discrimination in North Carolina in the wake of the state’s discriminatory House Bill 2 (HB 2), finding that LGBT people have “for years been subjected to bullying, harassment, discrimination and sometimes violence” and that HB 2 “heightens fear in North Carolina.” The piece included interviews with scholars and advocates who say the law, which was passed in March, “has given people permission to hate.”
As the controversy over North Carolina’s HB 2 continues, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has defended the law -- which, among other things, prohibits localities from enacting nondiscrimination provisions on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity -- by saying that he isn’t aware of any examples of anti-LGBT discrimination in North Carolina.
But the major special report from The Charlotte Observer found 59 people in 50 counties who had been subject to verbal slurs, threats, and even physical assaults because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The paper included reports on each person, an interactive map and videos -- which demonstrate that while McCrory and HB 2 proponents say the law “protects public safety,” the LGBT victims of bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence “say otherwise.”
In addition to noting years of discrimination against LGBT people, the Observer reported that since the passage of HB 2, “transgender residents said they feel as if they’re being watched.” The paper also spoke with two women -- neither of whom is transgender -- who also reported “being harassed at a restroom” due to their gender expression. The Observer also pointed out that 14 years of FBI crime statistics show that LGBT people were “targeted at higher rates than any other minority group in the country.”
From the October 12 Charlotte Observer special report:
Public records and interviews across the state suggest that targeting of LGBTQ residents is so commonplace that many take it for granted as a sad – and sometimes dangerous – fact of their lives.
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.
Three weeks after HB2 was adopted, someone responded to a sign critical of the governor by leaving a note on an Asheville woman’s car: “Burn in Hell, nasty faggot! I ♥ HB2!' "
The next day in Charlotte, instead of tipping a waitress who is lesbian, a group of female customers at Zada Jane’s in Plaza Midwood left a Bible verse, Leviticus 20:13, which holds that sex between two men is “an abomination” punishable by death.
Said Josh Burford, assistant director for sexual and gender diversity at UNC Charlotte: “It’s time for us to be afraid again.”