My whole life – all 15 years – I have been proud to say that I call the Tar Heel State home. This is where I was born. This is where I am being raised. We are home to some of the best public and private universities in the world. We were home to the Greensboro sit-in, one of the most powerful peaceful protests in our country’s history. With our rolling Smoky Mountains in the West and the idyllic Outer Banks in the East, people have loved to come visit us.
But from my high school student perspective, the state of our state is not looking up. We learned in school about the long list of groups of people who have experienced discrimination in this country: African-Americans, immigrants, children, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, the poor, Muslim-Americans, Jews, convicts, those who are obese. House Bill 2 represents a huge setback not only for transgender people, but also for society in general. With HB2, the government failed, morally, legally, economically and socially.
In addition to the issues of HB2 itself, the bill has also occupied the public eye and distracted the legislature from critical, longstanding issues. The government cut teacher’s assistants, school nurses, bus routes and supplies. My teachers often have to dip into their own, already-low salary to buy supplies to educate us – our state’s future.
HB2 also takes away North Carolina’s ability to attract the best talent, from education to industry. Our schools have had enough trouble trying to hire and keep excellent, caring teachers with poor benefit plans, limited resources and low salaries. Now with HB2 passed into law, not only are famous singers, other artists and major companies avoiding North Carolina, but teachers have one more reason to avoid a state that is not open to all people.
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What teacher would want to come to North Carolina, given that transgender students will experience institutional discrimination? Who will teach science in North Carolina when we ban the use of climate science in protecting our state’s bountiful shoreline? The discrimination of HB2 adds to many teachers’ worries about political interests impairing their everyday mission.
I love my teachers, for their decision to teach, commitment and love of the job. They come every day to work in order to educate us – and hopefully our education will make discriminatory laws, such as HB2, less likely.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The fall election creates an opportunity for the public to critique this bill and its effects, as well as the critical needs of North Carolina to build its society and economy.
The governor and legislature must repeal this bill. They will hear the LGBTQ community protesting, the newly unemployed lamenting, the North Carolina economy waning and the outrage of North Carolinians and beyond. They must also repeal the bill to focus on the very real problems of our state. For the teachers who dedicate their lives to the education of the legislators’ kids and all of North Carolina’s kids, they should repeal the bill. For their state, for our state – for our future – they must repeal HB2.
Jonah Perrin of Chapel Hill is a rising junior at Carrboro High School.