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City Council bans city-sponsored travel to North Carolina

The Boston City Council passed a bill Friday that will that ban city-sponsored travel to North Carolina as a result of the state's discrimination against transgender individuals. GRAPHIC BY RACHEL CHMIELINKSKI/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
The Boston City Council passed a bill Friday that will that ban city-sponsored travel to North Carolina as a result of the state’s discrimination against transgender individuals. GRAPHIC BY RACHEL CHMIELINKSKI/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The Boston City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday banning all city-sponsored travel to North Carolina, according to Dan Sibor, chief of staff for City Councilor Josh Zakim.

Zakim filed the ordinance on March 28 as a result of a recently passed law in North Carolina, according to a press release from the same day. The ordinance stated that the North Carolina legislation, known as House Bill 2, is discriminatory.

“HB 2 bars people in North Carolina from using restrooms that do not match their birth gender, thereby officially sanctioning discrimination against the transgender community,” the ordinance stated. “… HB 2 not only adopts a statewide antidiscrimination law that altogether fails to account for the LGBTQ community, but also prevents North Carolina’s cities and towns from adopting stronger local antidiscrimination laws.”

HB 2 defines biological sex as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate.” The legislation requires that schools mandate students to use restrooms designated for their biological sex.

“Local boards of education shall require every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility that is designated for student use to be designated for and used only by students based on their biological sex,” the bill stated.

Zakim’s ordinance stated that it is the duty of other cities to stand up against discrimination.

“Basic concepts of human and civil rights dictate that discrimination based on another’s gender identity or sexual orientation is inherently wrong,” the ordinance stated. “… The City of Boston prides itself as a place where discrimination is not tolerated and where we lead on issues of LGBTQ equality … The City of Boston has a duty to promote social justice and combat social oppression whenever able.”

Sibor said Zakim filed the ordinance because he felt Boston could not condone intolerant laws such as HB 2.

“The reason behind it is simply that the law passed in North Carolina is discriminatory,” Sibor said. “And in the councilor’s opinion, it was targeted at the transgender community specifically, but also the LBGT community, unfairly. He felt it was incumbent for the city to put its money where its mouth is and stand up.”

Zakim said in the release that Boston residents and officials should not allow such legislation to pass without a response.

“In Boston we take great pride in leading on issues of social justice and LGBTQ equality, and we have a continuing obligation to uphold this mission whenever there is an opportunity to do so,” Zakim said in the release. “That includes standing up and speaking out in the face of oppression and discrimination. [HB] 2 disrespects and denigrates all LBGTQ individuals who set foot in North Carolina.”

The ordinance cited three specific exceptions to the ban on city-financed travel to North Carolina: to “enforce the laws of the City of Boston or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” to “meet a contractual obligation” or to “protect the public health and safety of the people of the City of Boston.”

Several Boston residents spoke out in support of the City Council’s decision to pass the ordinance.

Lindsay Shafer, 32, of the West End, said she was pleased to hear of the City Council’s actions.

“I think it’s great that City Council actually passed it,” she said. “It’s one thing for it to be filed, but I’m glad all of our City Council took action against this law.”

Katharine Brine, 25, of Back Bay, said it’s good for major city governments to stand up for what they believe in.

“Since Boston is such a progressive city,” she said. “I’m glad that the city wants to stand up for its ideas and stand up against discrimination.”

Kate Souza, 33, of South Boston, said she was shocked to hear about HB 2.

“It’s ridiculous that today, states are still passing laws that are discriminatory,” she said. “I think we’re moving forward, and then I hear something like this. I just can’t believe that was actually passed.”

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