— Equality NC (@equalitync) February 22, 2016
Charlotte, NC, recently passed an LGBT public accommodations bill despite being threatened by the state’s Republican Governor.
In March of 2015, 18 year old Blake Brockington committed suicide. As a student at Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, Blake was named homecoming king. Blake was known as a girl until his sophomore year of high school, when he became open about transitioning to the gender he was born to be.
Being an activist requires a great deal of strength. Being a young activist requires even more. Being a young, black transgender activist, fighting for yourself and others while your own family refuses to support the person you truly are, requires a level of strength I cannot comprehend. Blake was strong. However, just like 41% of transgender individuals, Blake faced a level of being misunderstood and discriminated against that was so enormous, the idea of escaping the pain overcame the will to keep fighting.
The city of Charlotte that Blake called home just passed a non-discrimination ordinance that protects members of the LGBT community from being discriminated against by businesses. Among these protections, transgender people cannot be denied access to the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
Before the ordinance passed, Governor Pat McCrory, former mayor of Charlotte who now occupies the highest office in the state of North Carolina, chose these words:
“It is not only the citizens of Charlotte that will be impacted by changing basic restroom and locker room norms but also citizens from across our state and nation who visit and work in Charlotte…Also, this action of allowing a person with male anatomy, for example, to use a female restroom or locker room will most likely cause immediate State legislative intervention which I would support as governor.”
Governor McCrory is correct in that the passing of the non-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte can impact not only the citizens of that city, but citizens across the state. This non-discrimination ordinance not only offers protections for the LGBT community but also helps attract people and businesses to the area and boosts our state’s economy with benefits to both small business and large corporations.
Instead of demonstrating the kind of leadership that honors the memory of kids like Blake Brockington and the lives of LBGT youth fighting every day hoping the next day will get better, Governor McCrory has chosen ignore the facts and instead has chosen to condone, promote, and make himself complicit in the bullying that leads to hurt and death. His long history of ignoring, dismissing, and belittling the youth of his state in itself makes him unfit to lead, but in choosing to issue threats to use the tax dollars of NC citizens to promote bigotry and discrimination, Governor McCrory is a public menace and a direct threat to the lives of NC’s young people.
North Carolina citizens will soon have the opportunity to use their votes to stand up for the LGBT community, and especially the most vulnerable members of that community, our LGBT youth, by ousting the bully that currently resides in the Governor’s mansion. Even citizens who are too young to vote have the power to use our voices and devote our time through volunteering to help elect the leadership we deserve. Pat McCrory has chosen his words, now it is time for us to choose our deeds.
We are not just fighting for change, we are fighting to save lives.