Letter: HB2 could cost local schools

Published 12:10 am Friday, April 22, 2016

By Josh Bergeron


A letter signed by three members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation raises the specter of the Rowan-Salisbury School System losing nearly a tenth of its budget because of a controversial law enacted recently by the N.C. General Assembly.

Issued Thursday by Rep. Alma Adams, D-12; Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-1; and Rep. David Price D-4, the letter urges the state legislature to repeal House Bill 2. That measure, in part, reversed a Charlotte ordinance that would’ve allowed transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identities.

The trio of Democrats sent the two-page letter that dishes out wide-ranging criticism of the controversial measure to Gov. Pat McCrory, state Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore. In the letter, the trio says House Bill 2 codifies discrimination.

“Beyond pandering to fear and ignorance on bathroom use, it broadly threatens the rights of our citizens, the economic opportunities and quality of life we hold dear, and the future of the great state of North Carolina,” the letter states. “As the General Assembly reconvenes next week, we call on you to swiftly repeal HB 2, restore the rights of local governments to protect their residents against discrimination, and work to bridge the deep rifts it has caused among residents of the state we are proud to call home.”

The letter also notes that North Carolina could lose millions in federal education funding because of a federal court decision this week that found a Virginia school discriminated against a transgender male by not letting him use the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity. The court decision came in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees an area that includes North Carolina.

Funding is an issue because Title IX prevents discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. For the Rowan-Salisbury School System, a loss of federal funding could strip approximately $15 million from its $164 million budget, according to the latest financial statements posted online. It would be a loss of about 9 percent of the school system’s budget.

Following the court ruling, President Barack Obama’s administration is reviewing House Bill 2’s implications for a “wide range of federal programs” that ranges from transportation to health and human services, the letter states.

Passed during a special legislative session last month and quickly signed into law by the governor, HB2 also eliminates the ability of people to sue in state court for discrimination and bars local governments from raising the minimum wage. But the provision striking down Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance has sparked the most response for what has been called the “bathroom bill.”

In their letter, the Democrats say House Bill 2 makes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in North Carolina “second-class citizens; weakens employment protections for millions; and tramples on the sovereignty of local governments.”

Latter parts of the letter state that McCrory’s recent executive order did little to improve provisions of the bill. McCrory’s order added sexual orientation and gender to equal employment policy for state employees, affirmed the ability of private businesses to establish their own bathroom policies and asked state legislators to allow people to sue in state court.

The letter states McCrory’s executive order “serves as a clear admission that the law discriminates against members of the LGBT community while undermining state protections against employment discrimination.”

“As you are aware we are not alone in condemning HB2,” the letter states, “North Carolinians of all political persuasions have joined with municipal and county governments, chambers of commerce, major employers, colleges and universities and faith leaders in calling for its repeal.”