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Equality NC Responds to Proposed LGBT Protections, Anti-LGBT Rhetoric on N.C. House Floor

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Rep. Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe)

Raleigh, N.C. – Today, Rep. Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe) introduced an amendment to pending charter school legislation (SB793) that would prohibit a state-funded charter school from discriminating against students on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The amendment would add protections for gay and transgender students to other enumerated categories such as national origin, gender, and disability. After a brief debate on the House floor, the Amendment was eventually tabled.

During debate, Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Wake) took objection to the addition of "sexual orientation" as a protected class for students, stating that "pedophila" and "masochism" are one of 30 sexual ” orientations” he claimed exist. Stam went on to circulate a misleading handout to fellow House members on "What is Sexual Orientation?"

Stam's remarks were immediately followed by a rebuttal from Rep. Marcus Brandon (D-Guilford), the N.C. General Assembly's only openly-gay member, saying, "no school should be able to deny you [because you are LGBT.]"

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Rep. Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg) took to Twitter following the Wake County Republican's anti-gay statements, responding, "I am disgusted by Rep. Stam's hurtful and harmful words. I am also embarrassed. #ncpol #shameful #ignorance."

Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, immediately praised Rep. Fisher's proposed amendment to protect gay and transgender youth while also condemning Stam's anti-LGBT remarks.

"We applaud Rep. Susan Fisher's efforts to protect vulnerable gay and transgender students in North Carolina and we will continue to work with our legislative allies to make sure not one taxpayer dollar is ever used to subsidize schools that discriminate." said Sgro. At the same time, it's important to understand that Skip Stam's words represent not only an embarrassing display of anti-LGBT rhetoric in North Carolina, but a clear and present reminder of why these protections are so necessary -- in our schools, in our workplaces, and at all level of everyday life in the state we call home."

Sgro added, "Clearly, this type of bullying and harassment of LGBT North Carolinians starts from the top down in our General Assembly, and we will do everything in our power to join with a majority of voters at the polls to show our legislature that hurtful and hateful words and sentiments like those we heard today do not represent North Carolina values."

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