There is little doubt that the swirling controversy generated by HB2 has wreaked dramatic damage on our community’s reputation as an open and welcoming place for business. The negative impact on our economy is real, with many who don’t really have an opinion on the matter feeling the business pain.
Both sides of this issue have created a framework from which they cannot back away without serious erosion of deeply held principle, creating a non-productive standoff. My intent here is not to identify blame, but to propose a solution.
In the core belief of basic human rights, there is little room for compromise. But I believe the right to privacy while using a toilet or showering should be equally basic. This issue, while about discrimination, also should be about privacy.
Gov. Pat McCrory rarely mentions HB2 without framing it with the phrase “common sense,” and always references the use of showers along with toilets. This conjures up the subliminal image of a 9-year-old girl showering next to a naked hairy old man, which of course is disgusting to us all.
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The fact that this has never been an issue, and would not be prevented in any case by the mere circumstance that it was illegal, is not part of the equation.
If everyone was granted the human right to privacy while naked or exposed in a public place, wouldn’t this solve the dilemma? And don’t most all public facilities have the privacy option through either a toilet stall or shower curtain anyway? Shouldn’t everyone have the right to shower or use the toilet in private?
My proposal would be for Charlotte City Council to amend its ordinance, leaving the basic non-discriminatory intent as is, but adding a sentence that “all public toilets and shower facilities must always have the option that guarantees privacy to anyone using the facility.” With this gesture of extending the rights of all, without compromising the minority’s rights, the state could see that everyone’s rights were protected, and there would be no need for HB2, paving the way for repeal.
At that point, the dynamic progressive state that we have all grown to love will be open for business once again; the countless people who have been caught in the crossfire of this controversy can get their businesses back in full gear, benefiting the entire community. And everyone’s rights will be guaranteed protection under the law.
David Furman is a Charlotte architect and developer.