Controversy Arises as North Carolina School Board Opts Out of LGBTQ Provisions, Risking Legal Action

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board is facing the possibility of legal complaints or action by legislators after choosing to leave out two LGBTQ-related provisions that were directed by the General Assembly for districts to follow. On Thursday, the board unanimously voted in favor of initial approval for several updated policies in compliance with the Parents’ Bill of Rights legislation, which was enacted in 2023 by Republican lawmakers. However, they decided against incorporating a provision that would have required schools to notify parents before a student uses a different name or pronoun, as well as a provision to prohibit instruction about gender identity and sexuality in K-4 classrooms.

During the meeting, board members acknowledged the potential legal problems that could arise from their failure to implement these components of the law. However, many community members, students, and teachers voiced their concerns, stating that the law discriminates against LGBTQ students and could lead to further harm. A second vote on the policy update is scheduled to take place at a future meeting.

Board Chair George Griffin expressed his hope that the situation wouldn’t escalate into a conflict with legislators or others. He emphasized that challenging a regulation or law always carries the risk of dissatisfaction among certain individuals. The Republicans who passed the law, overriding Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto, argued that it aims to give parents more control over their child’s K-12 education. The law also provides parents with a process to review and object to instructional material and a method for addressing grievances.

Following the board’s decision, Senate Majority Whip Jim Perry, a Republican, took to social media to suggest that the legislature might address the omissions in the policy updates. The General Assembly is expected to reconvene in April for further legislative work. Democratic Sen. Graig Meyer, a former social worker in the district, commended the district’s choice and called for the law to be challenged in court. He emphasized that, if faced with the decision between the law and student welfare, he would prioritize the well-being of the student every time.

While most school districts have revised their policies to align with the new law, some groups have taken issue with its implementation. The Campaign for Southern Equality, along with other organizations, filed a federal complaint against the Buncombe County school system, arguing that the policies adopted in accordance with the law create a hostile educational environment for LGBTQ students, families, staff, and faculty. The impact of the board’s decision remains to be seen, as the debate over LGBTQ-related provisions in schools continues.