CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A recently introduced bill in the General Assembly has students and faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) buzzing. The bill would overturn a policy passed by the university’s trustees last year allowing students of the opposite sex to share living space together. Equality North Carolina (ENC) gave a resounding condemnation to the legislation.
In a statement, Executive Director Stuart Campbell said, “Senate Bill 658 sets a dangerous legislative precedent of revoking basic protections for at-risk LGBT young people. While bill sponsors toss around groundless arguments that gender neutral housing somehow detracts from academics, these types of policies actually ameliorate systemic bullying and harassment of LGBT students — harassment that could otherwise lead to the very real dangers of depression, drop-outs and suicide.”
The “gender-neutral” housing policy was adopted by UNC’s Board of Trustees to “alleviate harassment or bullying faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender students.”
And, UNC-CH is not the only school that has concerns about the issue. High Country Press reported that “this bill could have ramifications on the gender-neutral bathrooms at Appalachian State University that were put in place last fall.”
UNC-CH was the first public school in North Carolina to offer the gender-neutral housing choice (goqnotes.com/19182/). Now that distinction could be in jeopardy. The University of North Carolina-Charlotte had also considered inclusive housing options (goqnotes.com/19350/). It is still under advisement with the school’s Student Government Association. On Feb. 14, it took it’s language back to committee. What concerned the GSA most was how to discern what kind of match-ups were going to work, what the “magic question” was to pairing.
Sen. David Curtis (R-Lincoln), Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake) and Sen. Ben Clarke (D-Cumberland) presented the bill, known as UNC Dormitory Rules, to the General Assembly.
Updates on the story will be forthcoming as the situation unfolds. Stay tuned to goqnotes.com.