RALEIGH — The North Carolina Legislature voted Wednesday to override six vetoes by Gov. Roy Cooper, putting the measures into law.
“The House has successfully overridden six more of Gov. Cooper’s vetoes, resulting in huge wins for North Carolina women, parents, and families,” said House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland. “While Gov. Cooper has tried to stand between parents and their kids, today the NC House will continue to affirm parent’s rights, protect female athletes, and advocate for the health and safety of our children.”
North Carolina’s Senate and House voted minutes apart Wednesday to override Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 49 limiting LGBTQ+ instruction in the early grades, immediately making it law.
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The law now requires that public school teachers in most circumstances alert parents before they call a student by a different name or pronoun. It also bans instruction about gender identity and sexuality in K-4 classrooms.
Gender-affirming medical treatments
GOP supermajorities in the House and Senate enacted — over Cooper’s opposition — a bill barring medical professionals from providing hormone therapy, puberty-blocking drugs and surgical gender-transition procedures to anyone under 18, with limited medical exceptions.
The law takes effect immediately, but minors who had begun treatment before Aug. 1 may continue receiving that care if their doctors deem it medically necessary and their parents consent.
North Carolina becomes the 22nd state to enact legislation restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. But most face legal challenges, and local LGBTQ+ rights advocates vow to take the ban to court. The Senate voted 27-18 to complete the veto override after the House voted 74-45 earlier. All present Republicans and at least one Democrat supported the override bid.
Cooper blasted the votes in the Republican-controlled chambers, calling them “wrong priorities.”
“The legislature finally comes back to pass legislation that discriminates,” he said, adding it would have several negative impacts for North Carolina. “Yet they still won’t pass a budget when teachers, school bus drivers and Medicaid Expansion for thousands of working people getting kicked off their health plans every week are desperately needed.”″
Gender-affirming care is considered safe and medically necessary by the leading professional health associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Endocrine Society. While trans minors very rarely receive surgical interventions, they are commonly prescribed drugs to delay puberty and sometimes begin taking hormones before they reach adulthood.
Opponents voiced their displeasure with the legislation.
“Last thing North Carolinians need or want are more constraints on bodily autonomy and less access to health care,” said Jillian Riley, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. “But that’s exactly what House Bill 808 does. It uses legislation to once again attack our trans youth, taking away essential and life-saving health care.”
Bill sponsor Sen. Amy Galey, an Alamance County Republican, said parents have a right to know details about their children’s education. “Parents need to be brought into the conversation from the very beginning, not treated with suspicion or as the source of that anguish,” she said.
“Our child started hormone therapy at the age of 16,” said Doug Cooper, the president of PFLAG Charlotte.
Cooper told Channel 9 on Thursday the legislation will be devastating for some young people and would have been for his child.
“Likely, we’d be thinking not how do we get our child gender-affirming care, but how do we prevent our child from committing suicide,” Cooper said.
Data from the National Institute of Health said 82% of transgender people have considered suicide with those thoughts most prevalent among youth.
Brooke Weiss of Moms for Liberty said the long-term risks of those procedures are unknown and that young people who want to transition should wait until they’re adults.
“We need to give them time to figure out who they are without making permanent irreversible damages,” Weiss said. “I’m not expressing a concern about letting a little boy wear a dress or a little girl play with trucks. What I find horrific is stopping puberty in a child. We really don’t know what the effects of messing with biology that way are.”
Transgender girls banned from playing on girls’ sports teams
Both chambers also voted Wednesday to override Cooper’s veto of House Bill 574 banning transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams from middle and high school through college. It, too, immediately became law.
Critics have said limits on transgender girls’ participation in sports were discriminatory and have called it a measure disguised as a safety precaution that would unfairly pick on a small number of students.
But supporters of that bill such as Payton McNabb, a recent high school graduate from Murphy, argued that legislation is needed to protect the safety and well-being of young female athletes and to preserve scholarship opportunities for them.
“The veto of this bill was not only a veto on women’s rights, but a slap in the face to every female in the state,” said McNabb, who says she suffered a concussion and neck injury last year after a transgender athlete hit her in the head with a volleyball during a school match.
Weiss said Thursday that banning transgender females from playing girls’ and women’s sports is important.
“It always matters,” Weiss said. “I have three daughters. A reasonable person cannot deny that there is a difference.”
Cooper said transgender people are a tiny fraction of the population and those who play sports are even fewer.
“Which we say all the time are about building character and building friendships,” Cooper said. “And yet then we’re telling one group of people they can’t do that because they might beat somebody else in a sport in middle school
House Bill 618 gives more authority over charter schools in North Carolina to the Charter Schools Review Board. House Bill 219, the “Charter School Omnibus” makes various changes to laws affecting charter schools, including removing growth restrictions and allowing counties to use property taxes to fund charter school capital needs.
“The legislature finally comes back to pass legislation that discriminates, makes housing less safe, blocks FEMA disaster recovery funding, hurts the freedom to vote and damages our economy,” Cooper said in a statement about the overrides. “Yet they still won’t pass a budget when teachers, school bus drivers and Medicaid Expansion for thousands of working people getting kicked off their health plans every week are desperately needed. These are the wrong priorities, especially when they should be working nights and weekends if necessary to get a budget passed by the end of the month.”
Charlotte Pride statement:
“Yesterday, North Carolina lawmakers voted to override Governor Cooper’s vetoes of HB 808 (gender-affirming care ban for youth), SB 49 (NC’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill), and HB 574 (trans sports ban). These bills will now become law and Charlotte Pride condemns these egregious attacks against our community.
“Bills like these are nothing more than thinly veiled attempts to censor the existence of the LGBTQ+ community in public spaces and deny young people the right to safe and affirming healthcare. This country proclaims “liberty and justice for all,” yet North Carolina lawmakers have denied LGBTQ+ citizens those rights. It’s certainly not lost on our community that this vote took place just days before the largest Pride festival and parade in North Carolina.
“Pride started as a protest. The LGBTQ+ community is all too familiar with discrimination and Charlotte Pride will not stop being vocal about equal rights for all. We invite everyone to join us in speaking out against these discriminatory policies and hold our lawmakers accountable. At the Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade this weekend, we are partnering with Democracy NC and the Freedom Center for Social Justice to bring social justice dialogue to the forefront. More information can be found at charlottepride.org.”
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