LAURINBURG —Democrats and LGBT advocates joined the Scotland County Republican Party on Monday in a discussion of House Bill 2 — commonly known as the “bathroom bill” — that covered questions of necessity, enforceability, and the legislation’s other ramifications.
Mark Schenck, Republican Party chairman, circulated a petition bolstering Gov. Pat McCrory in his support of the bill that restricts users of public restrooms to those consistent with their biological gender, before starting a discussion of its merits.
Proponents of the bill maintain that it will prevent sexual predators and voyeurs from using public bathrooms to victimize members of the opposite sex.
On Monday, Nancy Barrineau described it as virtually impossible to enforce.
“What do we do, ask for people’s birth certificates?” she said. “Do you carry yours with you when you go to the bathroom?”
Hal Culberson took issue with the Charlotte City Council decision, formally leaving the choice of which bathroom to use up to the individual, that prompted the N.C. General Assembly’s passage of HB2.
“Nobody’s supposed to question if a man walks in there, if a predator walks in there,” Culberson said of the Charlotte ordinance. “That to me is the bigger problem: it closes the door to question whether people are going in there that shouldn’t be.”
Schenck opened Monday’s discussion by defining transgender and citing an opinion piece by Paul R. McHugh, a Johns Hopkins University psychiatry professor, characterizing transgenderism as a mental disorder. Some who support the bill maintain that sexual predators will masquerade as transgender.
Barrineau pointed out that most transgender individuals maintain external appearances consistent with their gender identity and the bathroom they elect to use.
“Predators don’t look at signs on bathroom doors; they’re going to go wherever they want to go,” she said. “Transgender does not mean predator. Transgender people are not sexual predators, they are the victims. If you look at the statistics on sexual violence, they are the ones who being beaten up, killed, chased out of people’s towns.”
Jim Johnston, who said that he has enjoyed working relationships with LGBTQ individuals, supports the bill as it affects children in schools.
“Private industry is not affected by this bill; if you own a business, you can run that business as you want to,” he said. “But when it comes to schools and our young people, I think we really need to do a lot of thinking about what we want our children exposed to at very young ages.”
Though the bathroom issue remained a point of contention, most present objected to the bill’s removal of state court appeals in cases regarding discriminatory employment practices — whether based on age, race, or sexuality.
Clark Hanmer suggested that the bathroom section of the legislation may have been designed to overshadow that restriction of employees’ right to appeal.
“They find some issue and quickly ram it through the legislature, where no one’s read it, looking at one issue and missing the real one. The entire bill you’re talking about here I’m holding in my hands. It’s only five pages.”
“I’m not worried about the bathrooms; whichever way that falls I don’t care, because the folks using the bathroom are going to figure it out and it’s not enforceable. That’s not really what we need to worry about.”
Some who spoke on Monday, voiced frustration with House Bill 2 and the ensuing debate, and said they would support rescinding the bill and the Charlotte ordinance.
“This makes me think nobody’s researched it thoroughly enough,” said Linda Simmons. “They should have just left it alone because nobody thought anything about it…. I’m really sorry that this has come about in an election year when we have so much else on our minds.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.