When you walk around USF, it isn’t uncommon to see gender neutral bathrooms. In fact, we have floors in the residence halls specifically dedicated to promoting equality through gender-neutral spaces. For many, it’s not such a farfetched thought to accommodate to those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community. It only seems right that we, as humans, should be accepting and welcoming of each other and everyone’s personal choices and beliefs, whether that pertains to religion, sexuality, etc. But in some parts of the world, it’s not always like that. In fact, in some parts of our country, it’s not like that. It’s a spectacle to see the dichotomy between communities separated by just a few hundred miles.
Naturally, we like to see the community we choose to immerse ourselves in as the standard, the normal, the best. Many in San Francisco have the mindset of progressiveness and equality. One could call it a millennials utopia. Roughly 2,204 miles away, it’s a little different. In March, North Carolina passed a bill in which essentially rids the state of single-sex bathrooms, forcing individuals to use bathrooms only associated with the gender on their birth certificates, House Bill 2 or HB2. Though on the surface, the legislation’s intent was meant to be protective, it’s been more harmful than helpful.
The people of the state have been protesting and speaking out against HB2 since it passed in March. There have been rallies at the capitol and many have boycotted businesses for supporting HB2. At the same time many businesses, and sometimes cities as a whole, have completely disregarded HB2. Those businesses hang signs on their storefront exclaiming their effort to protect and support.
Colleges and their students and faculty have been actively voicing their displeasure with the ordinance. Legendary Duke head basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, was asked about HB2 when preparing for the Rio Olympics and told USA Today Sports, “It’s an embarrassing bill. That’s all I’m going to say about it.” NC State basketball coach Mark Gottfried said he’s embarrassed when he goes on recruiting visits and parents ask about HB2. A similar bill in Indiana passed that would allow discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) president, Mark Emmert, threatened to move the NCAA’s headquarters in Indianapolis if the state were to not repeal the ordinance. The Indiana legislature ultimately amended the bill.
With HB2 in place, the sporting world has taken notice and actively support the LGBTQ+ community by avoiding and pulling events from the state entirely. Originally, the 2017 NBA All-Star game was to be held in Charlotte, but Adam Silver and the NBA moved the weekend-long event to New Orleans, which will lead to North Carolina missing out on up to $100 million in revenue.
The financial implications haven’t stopped since. Paypal and other companies have pulled back on business, stopped expansion and restricted business travel to North Carolina. The NCAA pulled seven championship games that were originally set to be in North Carolina. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) also pulled their conference championship game. Schools outside of North Carolina have gone as far as to no longer provide funding for their athletics to travel to North Carolina. Every day, the state of North Carolina loses out on millions due to its decision to enforce HB2.
A NCGOP spokeswoman defended HB2 by saying that the NCAA “is so absurd it’s almost comical,” using the women raped at Baylor University as an example as to why single-sex bathrooms and locker rooms are necessary.
With HB2, Colin Kaepernick and the national anthem and NBA players wearing black shirts during warm-ups in solidarity with BLM, it’s easy to see the correlation between social change and the sports world being an active and supportive voice. Before the Civil Rights Movement in the mid 50s, Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier in the late 40s. For years, as women have pushed for equality, there have been competitions like Billy Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs in the 70s. Although, as a country, we don’t have a massive backing behind the LGBTQ+ community, we’re getting there. But it’s instances like HB2 that make you wonder how much progress we’ve actually made together.
I suppose for us here in California, we’re a little better off. Especially for students at USF, I’d like to think we’re very welcoming to people from all walks of life and all the different stories our student body has to tell. We’re not perfect either, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve done our best to recognize bigotry, and implement progress.