- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

As several North Carolina universities issued statements denouncing House Bill 2, nearly 1,000 young people took to the streets of Chapel Hill to protest the legislation, which bars transgender people from using public facilities of the opposite sex.

Police were forced to halt traffic at several of the college town’s busiest intersections, when the crowd largely consisting of students marched through the streets holding signs and sharing stories about how the law would affect their lives or those of their peers.

“If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it,” rally organizer and transgender person Joie Lou told the Raleigh News & Observer, quoting author Zora Neale Hurston.

“They will try to diminish our worth, to kill our spirits, to kill us physically,” the protester continued. “But it is our duty as the ones who are still remaining to fight and to be very loud and very vocal about the way that we are feeling.”

The demonstrators also chanted the name of Blake Brockington, a transgender person from North Carolina who committed suicide last year.

The University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University, both public institutions, last week issued noncommittal statements on the law. But a group of 50 faculty members at the Chapel Hill campus were less restrained.

“The recently passed House Bill 2 makes it impossible for UNC-Chapel Hill and its surrounding communities to protect valued faculty, staff, and students from discrimination simply because of who they are,” the statement signed by faculty members read. “We are gravely concerned that House Bill 2, and the disturbing message it sends, will make it difficult for Carolina to find and retain the best faculty, staff and students.”

The administration at neighboring Duke University issued a stern rebuke of the law last week, promising that activities at the private institution would “not be impacted” by the legislation.

“Duke University values every individual,” the statement said. “We are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, which makes us a better and stronger community. For that reason, we deplore any effort to deny any person the protection of the law because of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

And Elon University concurred that the law “does not apply to private institutions and will not impact Elon’s policies and practices.”

“In regard to the use of restrooms, we reaffirm our position that individuals should use facilities in which they feel most comfortable and align with their gender identity,” the college said in a statement.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has maintained that the law is aimed at protecting privacy rights, not discriminating against transgender people.

In a video released on Tuesday responding to the nationwide backlash facing his state, Mr. McCrory decried politicians and interest groups who “initiated and promoted conflict to advance their political agenda and tear down our state.”

“Unfortunately, that has occurred when legislation was passed recently to protect men, women and children when they use a public restroom or shower room,” Mr. McCrory said. “That is an expectation of privacy that must be honored and respected. Instead, North Carolina has been the target of a vicious, nationwide smear campaign.”

Several corporations ranging from North Carolina-based PayPal and Bank of America to the National Basketball Association have expressed discontent with the law.

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