CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Margaret Spellings, the new president of the UNC system, says she is concerned about what impact House Bill 2 might have on UNC campuses but that the system must and will abide by state law.
During a phone interview, it was obvious that the woman in charge of overseeing all 17 of the UNC campuses senses how divisive HB2 has been.
“I think it sends a chill through these institutions for staff, faculty and student recruitment,” Spellings said. “We are concerned about what this bill would suggest in that broader sense.”
On UNC’s campus, reaction to the new law has been strong on both sides.
“The problem is that you’re going to hurt the brand of UNC,” said UNC student Sydney Conrad.
“It’s just in the interest of everyone’s security,” said UNC student Austin Somers.
The new law requires bathrooms and changing facilities at government buildings be used according to biological sex. Opponents say it is anti-LGBT and does not protect the transgender community. Supporters disagree.
“What the state of North Carolina did with our anti-discrimination statement is to adopt all of those categories that are currently federally recognized,” said Wake County Rep. Nelson Dollar (R).
“I think the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians support House Bill 2,” Dollar said. “They want to make sure showers, bathrooms and the like are safe for their kids.”
Dollar said once people are more educated about the law, the better perspective people would have. “And this will not be a major concern for us moving forward,” he said adding that the Charlotte ordinance is to blame for all the consternation.
“I’m concerned that the Charlotte City Council decided to make a political statement,” Dollar said. “It has certainly resulted in negative publicity.”
Spellings says it’s important that there is an atmosphere of inclusion on UNC campuses, and that she will continue to discuss HB2 with state lawmakers. She said legislators have indicated that they are open to consideration of the system’s concerns.
Spellings also says she hopes to get some clarification from the U.S. Department of Education on whether the law will impacts billions of dollars in Title 9 funds coming to North Carolina.
She says she will discuss possible changes with lawmakers before they return to session in a couple of weeks.
For full coverage of House Bill 2, please click here.