Under the Dome

UNC-Chapel Hill professors blast LGBT discrimination law

The Historic South Building and the Old Well on the University of North Carolina campus are popular places for students and visitors to meet and take photographs on Friday, February 6, 2015 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Historic South Building and the Old Well on the University of North Carolina campus are popular places for students and visitors to meet and take photographs on Friday, February 6, 2015 in Chapel Hill, N.C. rwillett@newsobserver.com

A group of 50 faculty members from UNC-Chapel Hill issued a statement Monday opposing the state’s new law on LGBT discrimination.

The professors stressed that they weren’t speaking on behalf of the university, which has not taken a formal position on the law. The statement called on legislators to repeal the law, which was approved in response to a Charlotte ordinance allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

“The recently passed House Bill 2 makes it impossible for UNC-Chapel Hill and its surrounding communities to protect valued faculty, staff, and students from discrimination simply because of who they are,” the statement said. “We are gravely concerned that House Bill 2, and the disturbing message it sends, will make it difficult for Carolina to find and retain the best faculty, staff and students.”

Among the notable names who signed the statement: UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health Dean Barbara Rimer, Kenan-Flagler Business School Dean Douglas Shackelford, Department of Religious Studies Chair Randall Styers, religious studies professor Carl Ernst and former School of Law dean Jack Boger.

A statement from UNC-Chapel Hill’s leaders, including Chancellor Carol Folt, did not take a position on the law but said they’re working to understand the law’s impact.

“Since the passage of this law, we have heard from many people, including students, faculty, staff and alumni,” the statement said. “We understand the concerns, sadness, anxiety and fear this is causing. We care deeply about and support our LGBTQ community, and we will continue to work hard to find ways to accommodate the needs of all our students, faculty, staff and visitors to our campus.”

Also Monday, the Chapel Hill Town Council passed a resolution opposing the law, several days after Carrboro leaders approved a similar resolution.

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