A Statement by the Council of the American Studies Association
May 9, 2016
In March of 2016, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2 (HB2), otherwise known as the “Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act” which severely limits how cities and counties can protect their residents from a wide range of discrimination, including racial bias in the workplace. HB2 effectively overturns local policies that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) people. It bans a city or county from requiring its vendors to provide employees with a living wage and decent benefits and preempts local anti-discrimination policies and enforcement tools that protected everyone regardless of race, national origin, age, disability, gender or religion. In addition, HB2 prohibits a worker who is the target of racial, age or other discrimination from going to any state court for relief.
While the Governor’s attempt to construe the bill as solely about safety and security - in short, the protection of children and families from LGBT people - people of conscience around the US and around the world have condemned HB2 and its attempt to use hatred and fear to legislate discrimination in place of federal protections.
Among the many protections active and available to all people in the United States, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has declared that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination requires that covered employees (including those of public universities) must be permitted to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Second, the Department of Education has declared that Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination requires that students in universities receiving federal financial assistance must be able to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.
In the wake of the passage of HB2, corporations, performers and professional organizations have cancelled events, prohibited travel to the state and halted planned expansions into the state. As elected leaders of an academic association with members across the state, we, the Executive Committee of the American Studies Association, join with others around the world in condemning HB2 and calling for its repeal. We are greatly concerned that the flagship University in the state (UNC-CH) and this country’s oldest public University has not taken a stand in opposition to HB2, but has provided mixed messages about the need to comply with the law, while at the same time upholding Title VII and IX protections. Such mixed messages do little to ensure members of the LGBTQI community that the atmosphere in which they work and teach is safe.
Our bylaws, in contrast, give us clear guidance. In seeking sites for our annual meetings, a fundamental criterion is the accessibility and safety of all of our members. HB2 commits the state of North Carolina to exactly the opposite, reinforcing and institutionalizing regimes of exclusion, intimidation, and hate that target people whose dignity and integrity is fundamental to our most basic values.
Therefore, we endorse the actions of those who have joined a boycott of the State of North Carolina until HB2 is fully repealed. Further, we encourage other organizations, including ASA’s regional chapters, to commit to accessibility and safety of all members in deciding where they meet if they have not already done so.
Executive Committee of the American Studies Association
President: David Roediger, University of Kansas
President-elect: Robert Warrior, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Immediate Past President: Lisa Duggan, New York University
Councilor: Jodi Byrd, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Councilor: Christina Hanhardt, University of Maryland, College Park
Councilor: Sharon Holland, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill