This is likely the only time Guglhupf, the Durham Public Schools, and “Dirty Dancing” have ever appeared in the same sentence.
The bakery, school board, and movie re-make have each been featured in recent news stories tied to North Carolina’s biased, backwards, “bathroom bill” HB2.
It’s formally titled The Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, so as not to be called the “Dumbest Bill Ever Act.”
The discriminatory bill pushed by some Stone Age dwellers in the statehouse has triggered an embarrassment of rich criticism, and lost jobs, too. Hundreds already, probably thousands before long. First PayPal, then maybe a world of economic hurt.
Kudos to Gov. Pat McGrory, who’s gone from job-loving freedom and free enterprise aficionado to naive, newly nasty, and just plain bad news bear for the Old North State.
The bill he signed into law faster than the time it takes to walk from his office to the bathroom is confounding businesses with bathrooms, for one. Right here in this city.
Near the front of the line, Claudia Cooper, long-time owner of Guglhupf, Durham’s go-to gem of a restaurant. Cooper was hamstrung by whether her bakery had to block certain bathrooms from certain people when they needed to go, gender identity be damned.
Some of her employees felt they had to quit based on how Cooper thought she was supposed to handle bathroom policy, instead of pastry quality. The classy Cooper was anguished, respectful of her staff and those who objected, and outraged, all at once.
She said HB2 was a “horrible” law and “opens the door to discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and denies them legal protection from prejudice.”
Sadly, Guglhupf didn’t make it into last week’s New York Times and Washington Post front section pieces on this imbroglio, though. Nor did our school board, which gets high marks for its timely, attention-getting expansion of student and staff rights, rather than cuffing them as HB2 does.
“Gender identity is included in our list of categories that we will not discriminate against,” chairperson Heidi Carter said.
Board member Natalie Beyer referenced high rates of depression and suicide among transgender youth. Thankfully, young people in Durham classrooms are seeing in real time how things should be done when it comes to civil rights and equality under the law, circa 2016.
Call it embracing differences, instead of disgracing them.
Then, less than a week ago, the Durham City Council stepped up and spoke out.
After a work session briefing by City Attorney Patrick Baker, council members suspended rules and more or less denounced HB2. That’s the Durham I dig.
Something tells me transgender people are going to feel generally OK about using the bathroom of their choice in city government buildings, and they should. Council basically said, “HB2 may be the law, but good conscience lives in the halls of City Hall.”
The statute is foolish, fear-mongering and futile. Its focus on division will only unite those in favor of fairness.
Hundreds of big businesses don’t really want to do business here now. Major sporting events will abandon us for higher ground. Many other states won’t send officials to visit because HB2 defies common sense and scrapes against decency.
Eventually, the courts will get their say, and HB2 may become moot or unrecognizable. Until then, we deserve to look like a state that’s lost its lustre.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the state’s chief executive, along with HB2’s leading legislative proponents, choose to constrict their travel plans in the coming months.
They wouldn’t feel welcome in the Bull City, or most communities where diversity and dignity prevail. No Guglhupf treats for them.