Update 7:30 p.m.: A campus-wide email from UNC-CH Chancellor Carol Folt and other administrators said the University does not agree with the controversial House Bill 2.
Following the lead of UNC-system President Margaret Spellings, Folt's email detailed the challenges of complying "with all laws that govern us while taking practical steps to lessen discomfort and distress."
"It is clear that the impacts to Carolina go well beyond the personal toll," the email said.
"There are implications to us, ranging from conferences that will no longer send delegates to North Carolina and our campus; concerns and a pause among some prospective students, faculty, researchers and staff; current and prospective donors who are signaling a reconsideration of their gifts; grants and relationships with businesses that are now in jeopardy; and more."
All non-discrimination policies at UNC-CH, the email said in bold, remain in place — something Spellings made explicitly clear earlier Friday.
The email also noted UNC-CH's hope to add more gender-neutral single-use bathrooms on campus.
"We have been asked how the University intends to “enforce” this provision of the law," the email said. "As noted in the memorandum, the law does not contain any provisions concerning enforcement."
Both Folt and Spellings had been criticized by activists for not taking a more definitive stance against the law before Friday.
Earlier: After a controversial memo to UNC-system chancellors this week clarifying how campuses should comply with House Bill 2, President Margaret Spellings told reporters today it was not a declaration of support.
The law, signed by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on March 23, limits local protections for the LGBT community and requires transgender people use bathrooms that coincide with their biological sex.
But Spellings said the April 5 memo explaining that campuses must comply was only in response to questions from university officials.
The memo also notes that universities do not have to change their nondiscrimination policies, many of which protect sexual orientation and gender identity.
“It is in no way an endorsement of this law,” Spellings said. “The concerns (are) that this guidance has engendered a belief that we are driving hard forward on support for the law, which is not the case.”
Spellings was criticized for referring to the LGBT community as a "lifestyle" in October, but has since apologized.
Students system-wide are challenging House Bill 2 today, with activists at N.C. State University and UNC-Wilmington hosting bathroom sit-ins to protest the legislation, according to various Facebook postings.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, Lambda Legal and Equality NC — all of which have filed a lawsuit claiming House Bill 2's unconstitutionality — criticized the university system's response to the controversial law.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that the University of North Carolina has concluded it is required to follow this discriminatory measure at the expense of the privacy, safety, and well-being of its students and employees, particularly those who are transgender,” the ACLU and the other groups challenging the bill said in a joint statement. “By requiring people to use restrooms that do not correspond to their gender identity, this policy not only endangers and discriminates against transgender people — it also violates federal law.”
In a press release last week, the North Carolina NAACP called for similar action, suggesting a massive sit-in movement at the N.C. General Assembly if legislators do not repeal the law by April 21.
“We cannot be silent in the face of this race-based, class-based, homophobic attack on wage earners, civil rights, and the LGBTQ community,” said Rev. Barber, president of the N.C. NAACP, in the press release. “Unless Gov. McCrory and the legislature repeal HB 2 by April 21, the Forward Together Moral Movement, better known as ‘Moral Monday,’ will consider launching a campaign of sit-ins at the General Assembly — a moral witness against this unconstitutional and immoral legislation."
But Spellings said that the implications of the law go beyond the bathroom issue.
“Broadly, there’s a sense of fear, of anger, questions about what’s next," she said. "Questions that, ‘Is this a state that is unwelcoming to people of all kinds?’ And this particular law suggests that this might be the case.”
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