GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The Campaign for Southern Equality believes that a new North Carolina law will violate federal nondiscrimination laws and impact public education.
SB 49, titled the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” passed in August after the general assembly overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the legislation. Part of the legislation was implemented before the start of the 2023-2024 school year with other parts going into effect at the turn of the year.
According to the Campaign for Southern Equality, the bill “includes policies that censor LGBTQ-related content from school curriculum and require school personnel to ‘out’ transgender students to parents, potentially before they are ready.”
Schools have been working on how to properly implement the law with the State Superintendent asking lawmakers for more time to help school districts figure out the best way to enact what is required of them by the legislation.
“In response, the Campaign for Southern Equality has published a new legal memorandum about S.B. 49,” the campaign wrote in a release.
CSE writes that SB 49 “creates a hostile educational environment for LGBTQ+ students” and that implementing the law would violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX is a federal law that makes it illegal to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity in school settings.
The memo was shared with the General Counsel of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, as well as local Boards of Education.
They say that SB 49 “mandates the creation of a school surveillance infrastructure” where students cannot express themselves “in ways challenging gender norms” or check out library books without the risk of their parents being told.
“Second, the law prohibits critical instruction by forbidding students, including those who are part of LGBTQ families, from learning about or even seeing examples of role models or families who are not straight and cisgender,” they continue, alleging that even historical figures who are remarkable for their gender, such as Amelia Earhart, could be impacted by the law, and that it seeks to punish staff and students for expressing support for LGBTQ+ issues.
The memo goes on to outline the way that the law would conflict with Title IX. Firstly, they write, Title IX trumps all state-level laws as a federal mandate. Additionally, any public education institution implementing practices that violate Title IX risks the loss of federal funding.
“In sum, North Carolina schools receiving federal educational funding are bound to follow Title IX over any conflicting state law. Title IX broadly protects LGBTQ students from hostile educational environments. Schools fostering such environments risk their federal educational funding, and individual educators who contribute to Title IX violations risk losing their licenses.”
In addition to the potential violation of federal law, the Campaign for Southern Equality writes that the law will exacerbate “pre-existing challenges for LGBTQ students” and create a hostile educational environment.
The memo cites data from GLSEN stating that the majority of LGBTQ+ students face difficulties in school, ranging from bullying to feeling unsafe in schools.
“Eliminating the four main types of stress on LGBTQ youth – including discrimination and physical violence in schools – would decrease suicide attempts among this population by a factor of 12,” the memo writes. “LGBTQ youth are 40% less likely to attempt suicide if they have even one accepting adult in their life.”
CSE goes on the say that SB 49 “contains multiple provisions that require school staff to communicate on a daily basis to LGBTQ students that they are inferior to and require more scrutiny” than straight, cisgender students.
“As a result, the Campaign for Southern Equality recommends that compliance with S.B. 49 be postponed or suspended until the Department of Public Instruction has had a chance to address the Title IX issues prompted by S.B. 49. If necessary DPI should involve the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights to ensure Title IX compliance,” the campaign writes.