CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Although the notorious House Bill 2 (HB2) is repealed and replaced by its problematic descendant, HB 142, legal discrimination against LGBTQ North Carolinians continues. One North-Carolina-based national LGBTQ advocacy organization is still suffering ramifications from the state’s notoriously discriminatory laws.
Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer believes that because of HB2 and the protests it inspired, the organization’s financial situation has catastrophically declined.
Campus Pride is the only national organization for LGBTQ youth based in the South. For 16 years, Windmeyer’s organization has hosted Stop the Hate trainings, college fairs, transgender advocacy events, sports summits and more. It serves 1,400 colleges annually and reaches thousands of students across the country.
For the first time in its 16-year history, Campus Pride had to report a budget deficit for its 2016 fiscal year. The deficit amounts to almost $40,000. The organization’s biggest event, Camp Pride, was the hardest hit. A national summer leadership academy, Camp Pride is meant to draw LGBTQ and ally youth to nurture their skills to be open, supportive activists.
In former years, the camp drew around 150 attendees, from students to professionals and volunteers. However, when HB2 passed, boycotts from other states and businesses began. This year, only 40 attendees are expected. Camp Pride organizers were blindsided, facing canceled registrations and massive financial loss. They knew why it was happening.
“A group of us from our community college…wanted to attend Camp Pride this summer,” one student from Mt. San Antonio College wrote to organizers. “The folks who came last year raved about it, and we’ve seen terrific strides on campus in the past year, but because we are in California, and state law AB 1887 prohibits state-funded travel to North Carolina, we are unable to attend.”
The student went on to say that they would write to the governors of the states concerned. But it isn’t just one group from one school. Windmeyer said that Campus Pride received a lot of messages like this.
“It was too late for us in the Spring to cancel or change things, and we were locked into UNC Charlotte for 3 years,” Windmeyer told qnotes. “All and all because of Camp Pride registrations being down and other Charlotte events we host like the college fair, we lost roughly $45,000 in revenue by the end of 2016.”
Even with HB2 “repealed” and many corporate protestors returning their business to the state, laws forbidding government-funded travel to North Carolina remain in place. California, in particular, has a state-wide ban on all taxpayer-funded travel to any state with anti-LGBTQ laws. Though intended as a show of solidarity, Windmeyer says these laws have unintended repercussions.
“State colleges or any college funded with state money cannot come to events like Camp Pride happening in North Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee and a couple other states,” Windmeyer said. “Where is the sense in that? You have a headache; do you chop off your head? No.”
These questions have complex answers, but it all comes down to how such protests impact everyone — including the LGBTQ organizations right here in states with anti-LGBTQ laws. After 16 years of history working in one of the most challenging regions in the nation, now Campus Pride must consider relocating in order to continue their mission.
“Campus Pride has had a long-standing commitment to doing work where it is needed the most, in often difficult, isolated and conservative areas in the South,” Windmeyer said. “I would hope leaders in the movement would rally around us and want to see national organizations working (living and breathing) in places like Charlotte, N.C. It is very disconcerting as someone who hears daily that LGBTQ organizations need to be doing work in the South, but has not seen the resources follow from national funders.”