Salem College Responds to HB2

By Regina Pearson
Photo by Emily Ramser

   HB2 or as it is commonly called the “bathroom bill” has been dominating headlines across North Carolina and the country. However, the bill, also known as The Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, affects more than just the way bathrooms are segregated in the state. This bill is “an act to provide for single-sex multiple occupancy bathroom and changing facilities in schools and public agencies and to create statewide consistency in regulation of employment and public accommodations.”

  The bill adds restrictions to bathroom usage by requiring boards of education to establish single-sex multiple occupancy bathroom and changing facilities for students to use based on what bill refers to as their biological sex. The bill also defines biological sex as “The physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate.” Additionally, it defines discrimination in the workplace against one’s sex as being only applicable if it is one’s “biological sex.”

   The first two pages of the bill go over the restrictions and limitations on the bathrooms, but the following three pages speak to standardizing wages, equal employment opportunity and equal access. The final section returns to restrictions for the transgender population in regards to public restrooms.

    On April 7, Stephen G. Jennings, Board of Trustees Chair and Lorraine Sterritt Salem Academy and College President sent out a statement regarding HB2 in which they said, “…our current understanding is that the new law will not necessitate any changes in Salem Academy and College’s policies and procedures in terms of protected rights and bathroom and changing facilities.”

    On April 12, around 30 students, led by Fleer student Christina Novaton, gathered in front of the Student Center and marched to both President Lorraine Sterritt’s house and the Inspector’s House to protest the school’s initial response to HB2.

    “I, among other people, were very unsatisfied with the response Salem College gave regarding HB2,” said senior Dana Barnhill, one of the protestors.

    Several of the protestors were protesting not only on behalf of transgender rights but also on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement.

    When asked why there was not a women’s movement present, protest leader Novaton said “there are more than women who are representing this movement” and that “this is more than a single gender movement.”

    During the protest, first-year Nicole Shoults and junior Krys Gidtrey announced the protestors’ list of demands:

  1. Issue a public statement opposing HB2 that clearly outlines how Salem plans to protect its LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff members.
  2. Appoint a more diverse Board of Trustees that better reflects and represents the diverse interests of Salem’s wider community.
  3. Create and  implements [sic] a more comprehensive Transgender Policy that is inclusive of transgender students who may apply for admission and protective of transgender students currently enrolled at Salem.
  4. Amend the Nondiscrimination Policy in the student handbook so that the policy includes not just sex, but gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
  5. Amend the Harassment Policy in the student handbook so that the policy includes not just gender but gender identity and gender expression.

    The protesters  met with President Sterritt and Dean Krispin Barr later that day to address the demands  Two days after the protest and a week after the first statement, Jennings and Sterritt sent out a follow up statement saying, “We reaffirm the values of Salem Academy and College, including our longstanding commitment to nondiscrimination, and we therefore oppose HB2 and urge our legislators to repeal it.”

    Students have continued to protest HB2 in the community since. A march organized by Open Up, the college’s LGBT group, and the Salem College Democrats took  place on April 18 and ended at City Hall where the City Council discussed the bill’s effect on Winston-Salem. Additionally, students such as Novaton and Gidtrey traveled to Raleigh to further protests.

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