Charlotte, North Carolina, just approved a city ordinance revision to allow transgender people to select which public bathroom to use based on the gender they identify with. Governor Pat McCrory says the city's "bathroom bill" threatens public safety and is calling on the state's legislature to stop it.At a Charlotte City Council meeting Monday, members voted to update the city's current nondiscrimination ordinance to permit someone to choose a restroom based on the gender with which they identify. Under the changes, businesses and other public establishments cannot restrict bathroom use based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or familial status.
"I'm pleased that Charlotte has sent a signal that we will treat people with dignity and respect, even when we disagree," said Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts.
As reported by USA Today, council members introduced a similar bill last year, but was it defeated. Shortly thereafter, city officials announced that transgender people will be allowed to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity in city- and county-owned facilities.
Governor McCrory contends that the Charlotte bathroom bill puts public safety at risk and encourages North Carolina lawmakers take the initiative against the measure.
"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," he wrote in the email to council members.
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore agrees with the governor. He said statutory actions against the ordinance will be explored in the next scheduled legislative session, which starts in April.
Supporters of the Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance say it will preserve the self-respect and safety of transgender people. According to a survey of the LGBT community, many have been denied service, received poor service, or experienced some other form of discrimination because of their status.
"Being assigned male at birth — it can be dangerous if I walk into the men's bathroom," Charlotte resident Lara Nazario said at the council meeting. "I'm told I am in the wrong one or 'outed' as transgender. This often leads to violence."
The advocacy group, Equality NC, condemns the governor for spreading old and discredited myths about transgender people. Executive director Chris Sgro says the governor is just trying to intimidate the Charlotte City Council.
Roughly 140 citizens each got one minute to offer opinions of the nondiscrimination ordinance changes. The council chamber was so full, many had to wait their turn either in adjoining rooms or outside.Opponents of the changes, which included clergy and business owners, say they should be granted the right to refuse service based on sexual orientation or gender identity. One resident, Jeanette Wilson, says the bathroom bill would easily be defeated if it were to go to a public vote.
Just prior to the City Council vote, documents were circulated citing residents' concerns that predators will use the bathroom bill to easily gain entry to women's restrooms and commit sexual crimes. Yet, staff researchers could not provide any evidence that supported an increase in such crimes in areas with nondiscrimination ordinances.
"There are countless deviant men who will pretend to be transgender who will use this to gain access to those they want to exploit," another ordinance opponent, Elaina Smith, said.
Protesters stood outside the City Council meeting holding signs with messages like "No Men In Women's Restrooms" and "Keep Kids Safe." Opposing the Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance, Chris Williams said residents must stick with their religious principles as he walked among the demonstrators handing out "No" stickers.
Other bathroom bills have created headlines nationwide. As reported previously by the Inquisitr, South Dakota lawmakers passed a transgender bathroom law which requires students to use the restroom or locker room corresponding to their sex at birth.
The recently passed Charlotte bathroom bill will take effect April 1. The nondiscrimination ordinance revision excludes public restrooms in schools.
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