We are shocked and saddened by the passage of HB2 in North Carolina, a bill which voids all existing anti-discrimination laws at the municipal and local level and which mandates that transgender individuals use public restrooms for the gender assigned them at birth rather than their current gender. This bill places lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender North Carolinians at risk of physical, emotional, and legal damage. It also threatens the safety and comfort of LGBT visitors to North Carolina.
The Southeast Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute (SUUSI) was born in the mountains of North Carolina more than 60 years ago as a retreat for religious liberals across the South. In 2016, SUUSI returns to North Carolina to hold our summer institute at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. What should be a joyous homecoming is now tainted by fears that many of our participants will face discrimination. As a Unitarian-Universalist organization, we fully welcome and equally value all people, including those who are LGBT. Our religious liberty to practice our inclusive faith is threatened by laws like HB2, which single some of our faith members out for humiliating or dangerous treatment.
SUUSI participants should know that because SUUSI is a private organization, our own non-discrimination policies are not affected by HB2. We are working with our hosts at Western Carolina University to ensure that all transgender and gender-non-conforming community members are safe at SUUSI and that all people have access to appropriate facilities such as restrooms. We ask that SUUSI participants bring any concerns to the Director, Michael Tino ([email protected]), or to the President of the Board, Rebecca Wald ([email protected]), rather than to members of the WCU staff.
The SUUSI Staff is working on ways in which SUUSI can respond to this hateful law when we gather in NC this summer. We're doing so in accountable relationship with transgender organizations in western North Carolina.
Our presence in North Carolina this summer is not in any way an endorsement of the state government’s shameful policy of discrimination. We oppose HB2 as a violation of human and religious rights. Since its birth, SUUSI has organized religious liberals to increase tolerance and understanding and to decrease discrimination throughout the Southeast. We are proud to continue this work.