The Mission of the YWCA Greensboro is to eliminate racism, empower women and to promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. It is because of this mission that our organization must take a stance against the passage of the North Carolina House Bill 2. HB2 is a direct attack on our values. This bill, passed under the guise of ‘protecting women and children’, will only make life harder and more dangerous for those, including women and children, who are already routinely denied access to basic needs, including housing, economic and academic opportunities and now bathrooms.
Why does discrimination always seem to involve bathrooms? If HB2 was only a bathroom bill, which it is not, that would be bad enough. How soon we forget – not so long ago, at a not so proud time in our history, many intelligent, well-meaning folks determined that White people sharing bathrooms with Black people posed a real and dangerous public health threat. Few people of that time were willing to openly say they didn’t like Black folks, or thought Black folks were “less than”, but many espoused the “real” dangers of infections and lack of cleanliness and a myriad of other “real” reasons white people should not share bathrooms with Black people. If we had believed and catered to those well-meaning people, we would now need even more sets of bathrooms.
It wasn’t about bathrooms then and it isn’t about bathrooms now. What do bathrooms have to do with cities setting a minimum wage? What do bathrooms have to do with older folks, people of color, lgbt folks having no state recourse for discrimination in employment, housing, restaurants and hotels.
Over the 114 years the YWCA Greensboro has served the city of Greensboro, we have advocated for and built community solutions to protect women, children and families from the real harms of inequality including racism, classism, sexism and gender violence. For 114 years we have fought against segregation and discrimination of all forms and have worked to empower those most affected by these issues. This long history has positioned us to have some insight and ideas into the work that needs to be done to truly protect women and children and families in Greensboro and North Carolina.
How about we protect our children from true child sexual predators? Statistically, that does not involve men who are lurking in bathrooms dressed as women, but rather people who look a lot like us and can be found in our schools, our churches, our youth groups.
How about we make sure that students in our public schools are not bullied, harassed and harmed in schools classrooms, hallways and bathrooms.
How about we provide a state and city where all of our residents, including women, children, people of color, older people, lgbt people – all people feel safe, valued and welcomed.
More North Carolina children are being harmed by the hate swirling around them right now then will ever be hurt by an imposter in a bathroom.
HB2 does not make anyone safer. It does teach our children that there is “us” and “them”, it does teach them that if they color outside the lines they may be subjected to venomous hate. It does teach them that bullying is ok as long as we bully people who are different than “us”.
The YWCA Greensboro stands with all those, across the state that are resisting this hateful bill and in so doing are showing us all what is possible and what and community really looks like.