Civil rights has found a new frontier: public bathrooms

America, once again neglecting the rights of minorities, refuses to embrace the democratic ideals of individual rights and equality. Passionate controversy over a new North Carolina law continues to highlight the innate discrimination that has unfortunately begun to define this nation, both historically and presently. North Carolina recently passed a controversial “bathroom bill,” which mandates that transgendered people are required by law to use the gender specific public bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth rather than the gender they  identify as.

The issue lies in American discrimination. North Carolina governor Pat McCrory publicly promotes anti-transgender legislation and uses the federal government as a scapegoat in his attempts to justify his unjustifiable actions. Yes, a southern governor going after the national government. A southern governor firing shots at the federal government over an issue in regards to… you guessed it: discrimination. Although this incident may appear isolated on the surface, it as a piece of a pattern deeply entrenched in America’s discriminatory culture, given that Southern slaveholders and secessionists also demonized the national government in their efforts to justify slavery.

North Carolina is just the latest state to use “bathroom bills” as a way to discriminate against transgendered people. Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Texas also advocated for “bathroom bills,” but before the laws were signed into action, the governor in each of those respective states vetoed it. However, in North Carolina, Governor McCrory and the legislature supported the discriminatory bathroom law. As a swing state, North Carolina serves as the home for people with contrasting political views. Therefore, many people weren’t very surprised by something so outwardly discriminatory becoming a law. But many others were shocked and angered to hear of the law’s passing and since then, both the federal government and private corporations have taken action to have the law repealed.

President Obama took action by recommending that all school districts and administrations to allow transgendered children use the bathroom they identify with. Unfortunately, North Carolina ignored the measure and the law still remains intact. Private corporations such as PayPal, the NBA, and Whole Foods have ceased expanding their business in North Carolina to show  support the LGBT community’s rights. Celebrities such as Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, and Nick Jonas have cancelled North Carolina performances to protest the law as well.

According to Time magazine, McCrory plans “to continue his fight against President Barack Obama’s orders that schools allow transgender students to pick their own restrooms or face a cutoff of federal dollars,” a tragic promise that highlights the danger residing in political extremism and a lack of understanding. Chris Sgro, executive director of the Equality North Carolina advocacy group, explained how the current “state of crisis” stems from the fact that people want to see the bill repealed, but McCrory and other Republican leaders refuse to stop fighting.

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graphic by Nicole Ng

What this boils down to, simply, is the lives of Americans. Let’s take some time to dust off the history books and remember the democratic ideals that served as the foundation for United States. John Locke’s Enlightenment theories still ring true in present day society, because government should exist for the people. When it stops placing the lives of citizens before anything else, the government stops fulfilling its crucial, protective role. Right now, as the North Carolina government scapegoats its citizens, people continue to lie to themselves and others about who they are. State governments should not control the lives of and take away independence from their citizens because these actions starkly contrast the fundamental aspects of government as a whole. Let’s not repeat our bloody history. The day that real equality is achieved, a successful government will follow.

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