On Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the EUC Cone Ballroom C, the Ashby Dialogue Symposium hosted the event “HB2: History, Legacy & Impact,” to discuss the history and impact of House Bill Two. The event was organized by the LGBTQ + Education and Research Network (LEARN).
LEARN, a relatively new network, came together three years ago. “The intention of the network is to offer opportunities for people to share their research or their scholarship, to share the work that they’re doing, to share, connect and collaborate with other people on campus and more broadly,” said Jay Poole, the Pedagogy Director of LEARN.
This Ashby Dialogue was the final installment of the LEARN HB2 presentations, the first held on Feb. 15, and the most recent on March 16. The Ashby Dialogues, as well as the Ashby Residential College, were inspired by the late UNCG professor, Dr. Warren Ashby. Ashby believed that in universities, the freedom to search for truth should always be present among faculty and students.
The first discussion in the dialogue was opened by Harold Lloyd, an associate professor at Wake Forest School of Law. In the discussion, titled “Politics, Journalism, and Truth: The Real Story of HB2,” Lloyd talked about his frustration with the journalism coverage of HB2. As a result of his frustration, Lloyd wrote many articles about HB2 in order to bring attention to what he believed to be fabrications about the bill.
Next, to discuss the impact of HB2, the discussion shifted to the panel, Real Impact of HB2. The first panelist was Leigh Ann Royster, the Director of Inclusive Community Well-Being at Elon University, who discussed the effects that HB2 had on higher education. Royster explained that after HB2 passed, there was an increase of bias directed towards people in the LGBTQ+ community. Royster cited that after the bill passed, there was a 52 percent increase of bias directed towards members of the LGBTQ+ community at Elon beacuse of their gender identity and expression.
At Elon, Royster expressed that this brought about a burden on LGBTQ+ centers, admissions, counseling and health services.
Second on the panel, was Assistant Director of the Office of Intercultural Engagement, Elliott Kimball, who talked about the impact HB2 had on students. Kimball discussed how, as a result of the bill, people should put more consideration into how they work to empower and advocate for LGBTQ+ students. Due to HB2, Kimball also stressed that people should be more mindful about the struggle of LGBTQ+ students that they do not see, such as a difficulty in having their basic needs met.
The third panelist to speak was Deena Fulton, the Prevention Coordinator at the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Fulton focused her presentation on the way HB2 affected the health of the LGBTQ+ community, putting emphasis on the fact that the bill was often framed as an economic issue regarding a loss of revenue for North Carolina.
“When we frame this [HB2] as an economic issue, the solutions that we are going to get are economic,” said Fulton.
What Fulton emphasized, was that when HB2 is framed as an economic issue, it takes attention away from the bill’s dehumanization of trans people. Fulton also discussed HB142, the bill that was passed after HB2, which reset the bill’s bathroom policies, allowing trans people to enter whichever bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, but does not offer them protection from any potential discrimination upon entering said bathroom.
In the final segment titled, “Queer Lives, Media Representation and the Stories We Tell,” author, Nick White, read an excerpt from his novel, “How to Survive a Summer.” The novel, White detailed, is about a man’s experience with a gay-to-straight conversion camp in the south. White explained that queer southern stories need representation, “It’s important for folks like me … to make sure we tell our stories.”
In the segment for closing remarks,“Moving Beyond the Audience,” event attendants shared their thoughts regarding HB2 in a discussion. One audience member’s takeaway was that in order to understand the true effects of HB2 on the LGBTQ+ community, it was important to see the issue framed as a matter of state-sanctioned violence.
The next event for UNCG’s Pride Month 2018 will be an LGBTQ+ Lunch & Learn on April 17.