RALEIGH. – The North Carolina General Assembly is considering a bill that would prohibit local governments from enacting measures to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender North Carolinians from discrimination in housing and public accommodations. SB 279 has many other troubling provisions, including one that would jeopardize comprehensive sex education in public schools and could lead to the return of abstinence-only education. The provisions to remove power from local governments weren’t made public until Monday night and could overturn many existing nondiscrimination ordinances across the state.
“The General Assembly has no business interfering in local decisions to protect residents from discrimination,” said Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. “Many communities in North Carolina have passed these ordinances with popular local support in order to compete for the best jobs and show that they are inclusive and welcoming places. This shameful bill would remove that local control and hurt our state’s reputation by sending a message that North Carolina sanctions intolerance and discrimination.”
On September 21, the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted to add lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals to those protected by the county’s employment nondiscrimination policies. Other state municipalities that have adopted LGBT nondiscrimination policies include Buncombe, Durham, and Mecklenburg counties, and the cities of Asheville, Boone, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Charlotte, High Point and Raleigh.