Metro Weekly

Poll: North Carolinians say HB 2 not needed for safety or privacy

But residents are divided on whether cities should be able to pass their own nondiscrimination laws

Photo: Flinga, via Wikimedia.

A recent poll finds that a strong majority of North Carolinians don’t believe the state’s controversial HB 2 law is needed to protect privacy or public safety, a claim made by the bill’s supporters.

The poll, by High Point University and the News & Record, a newspaper based in Greensboro, N.C., finds that only 37 percent of North Carolina residents believe HB 2 is necessary to protect privacy or safety in public restrooms, while 59 percent do not. The results are almost identical to those from a previous poll done in September, showing that people’s perception of the law has not changed much in the past six months.

The most recent poll also found that North Carolinians are aware of the economic impact that HB 2 has had on their state. Following passage of the bill, which restricts transgender people’s ability to access public restrooms and overturns local LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, several corporations considering expansions or relocations scuttled those plans and set up shop elsewhere.

In one instance, the News & Record recently reported that shoe and sports apparel giant Adidas relocated a planned factory — which would have brought 200 new jobs to the city of High Point, N.C. — to Georgia shortly after the passage of HB 2.

Because of stories like the relocation of Adidas, 63 percent of the High Point University/News & Record respondents say that HB 2 has had a “large” impact on the state’s economy, while about one-quarter say the impact is small. More importantly, 64 percent of respondents say it’s more important to end the negative economic consequences of the bill than to enforce the law

Some 63 percent say the economic impact of HB 2 has been large. (About a fourth called it “small.”) And 64 percent said it’s more important to end the economic impact to the state than enforce the law.

The state has also lost out on potential economic activity that comes from spending related to conferences, sporting events and concerts that are held in the state. Several musicians and entertainers cancelled appearances North Carolina, pledging not to perform until the law was repealed. In addition, the NBA, NCAA and ACC cancelled various sporting events that had been slated to be held in North Carolina — a big blow for a state whose reputation has long been centered around major sporting events like the NCAA men’s college basketball championship. 

In keeping with that, 85 percent of poll respondents said the benefit of sporting events was “somewhat” or “extremely” important to North Carolina. Another 82 percent say the boost to the state’s reputation from hosting major sporting events was also somewhat or extremely important. And yet, 53 percent say it’s fair that sports leagues have boycotted the state because of HB 2, compared to 42 percent who say it’s unfair.

That said, people may not disagree with the bill’s individual components. The High Point poll shows residents are evenly divided, 47 percent to 46 percent, over whether local municipalities should or shouldn’t be allowed to pass their own nondiscrimination laws independently of the state. And national polls taken over the past year indicate that most Americans do not support allowing transgender individuals to use the public restroom matching their gender identity.

General Assembly lawmakers in North Carolina are currently debating whether to repeal HB 2. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, wants the bill repealed in full. But Republican leaders say they just can’t countenance allowing people they consider biologically one sex to use restrooms designated for a different sex. They say that the state should be in charge of such regulations, and would object to any municipality in the state passing its own laws that might allow transgender people to use facilities matching their gender identity.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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