Why Is North Carolina’s ‘Bathroom Bill’ So Controversial?

federal legislative historyThere have been plenty of controversial federal regulations and state statutes in the past. Considering that the Constitution was written over 200 years ago, it’s no surprise that our government has had to make several changes over the course of federal legislative history to adjust to the times. Around 300 bills are hanging around waiting for Senate action at any given time, and only one-third of all bills proposed to Congress are generally enacted in the first year of a session. A lot of crazy laws are proposed, but a lot of them are passed over by an unknowing public.

North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom law,” House Bill 2, aimed at reducing (and even eliminating) the rights of LGBT individuals, is not one of those laws that is accidentally ignored.

The Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, as it’s officially known, is one of the most controversial legislative actions in a while.

HB2 was signed into law in March by Gov. Pat McCrory, and it’s become one of the contentious topics. According to the legislation, which applies to public bathrooms, requires transgender individuals to use the restroom that corresponds to their “biological gender” and not necessarily the gender that they identify as. If individuals wish to use a public restroom that differs from the gender listed on their birth certificate, they must have their birth certificate changed. The legislation has effectively reversed North Carolina’s anti-discrimination laws; it’s something that many believe could spread to other states, too.

The big problem with HB2 isn’t just the law itself, according to critics of the bill — the real problem is that it essentially opens the floodgates for other types of discrimination against LGBT individuals. Supporters of the bill take the opposite stance, explaining that the intention is to make sure that everyone feels comfortable when using a public restroom.

McCrory has since backtracked on his complete support of HB2, explaining that it is intended to “ensure that that expectation of privacy would remain in our high schools and our universities and our community colleges.”

North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” certainly isn’t the first controversial action of its kind in state or federal legislative history, and it certainly won’t be the last. But once again, the story emphasizes just how much state and federal statutes can change over time — and it emphasizes the importance of doing your own legislative research so you know which side of the argument you really stand on.

If you have any questions about the federal legislative history of such laws, feel free to share in the comments.