By allowing discrimination, HB2 is in direct contradiction with social work values and ethics, which include respect for the dignity and worth of all people and a commitment to social justice. We are troubled by the impact that this new law has on those who are already marginalized and vulnerable, including members of our own School of Social Work community. This legislation has created sadness, confusion, anxiety, and anger for individuals, communities, businesses, and service organizations across the state and nation. As citizens, we oppose this law.
As a publicly funded institution, we are bound by policies set by the North Carolina General Assembly. Still, we have and will continue to engage in various forms of education and advocacy to honor and affirm the dignity, safety, and inclusion of LGBTQ individuals and all members of our community. We agree with UNC Chancellor Folt and University Leaders, who recently stated: “All that Carolina has worked hard to establish over the decades – policies including protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, and fostering a culture of acceptance, respect for one another and human dignity above all else – remain a fundamental cornerstone of what our University aspires to be.”
Some recent efforts of the School of Social Work include the following:
Prior to HB2, at the request of the LGBTQ Student Caucus, we had a gender-neutral sign placed on the single restroom on the first floor of our building. This was removed by University officials in response to legislative action on HB2. Nonetheless, the single restroom remains a gender-neutral space, and we have placed signage outside of all restrooms in the building to make them aware of this restroom.
In February 2016, the Curriculum Committee welcomed the LGBTQ Student Caucus leaders to our meeting and implemented their recommendations, including updating official school documents to include gender neutral language; updating syllabi and readings; and revising student advising and faculty orientation protocols.
For many years, our Field Education Program has partnered with the LGBTQ Student Caucus and the UNC LGBT Center to develop educational materials and programs focused on LGBTQI affirmation, including resource materials, panel presentations and training for field instructors. The Field Education program is currently engaged in research on LGBTQI affirming practices within field placement agencies.
The School has conducted two forums for students, staff, and faculty to discuss the implications of HB2.
Members of the School of Social Work community developed a statement denouncing HB2 signed by more than 320 faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
As a School, we are committed to creating an environment in which people of all ages, genders, races, income levels, abilities, nationalities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, and beliefs are welcomed as community members who contribute to our educational mission and, ultimately, to society as a whole. Our mission as social workers to end discrimination in all of its forms is more important than ever. We will continue to work together as a community—every day—with and on behalf of those who are marginalized, threatened, and vulnerable.
Media contact: Karen Kornegay, email@example.com