Op-Ed: Why it’s so frustrating to talk about HB2

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As the fallout over HB2 continues, advocates on both sides continue a passionate debate. Actually, there are two debates, which is the problem. And few people seem to notice.

Pro-HB2ers talk about bathrooms. Anti-HB2ers talk about discrimination. Different issues, different arguments.

Both concerns are valid, and understanding these concerns is the key to finding a compromise. But until we acknowledge that there are two arguments at work, there will be no compromise.

Which is why a lot of conversations about HB2 frustratingly still look like this:

I have some concerns with HB2. My problem isn’t with the bathroom portion, it’s that it opens the door to legalized discrimination.

Women and children should be able to go to the bathroom without fear of attack or an invasion of privacy.

I agree, but that’s not my issue. I just don’t think a business should be able to hang a “No Gays Allowed” sign in the window.

This is not hard: If you have male genitals, you should use the men’s room. If you have female genitals, you should use the women’s room. It’s just common sense.

Right. Again, that’s not my issue. I just think that discrim—

If PayPal and Bruce Springsteen are OK with putting women and children in danger, I don’t want them in my state anyway.

I’m pretty sure their problems with HB2 aren’t about bathrooms, but about the discriminatory aspects.

It’s sad to think that we’re living in a time when people think it’s OK for a man to use the same bathroom at the same time as a little girl.

Again, dude, I’m not opposed to a bathroom law, per se. I just think this one has issues that need to be addressed.

You probably support men in women’s bathrooms because you don’t have a daughter.

Well, I don’t have a daughter, but I also don’t support men in women’s bathrooms. You have legitimate concerns there. So why not make the bathroom part a separate law and rethink the other aspects that could lead to general discrimination?

Using the bathroom that matches your private parts is just common sense. How anyone could think differently is mind-boggling.

Um …

This is just another example of liberals trying to force their agenda on everyone else and take away my rights and demonize my conservative beliefs. You’re part of the problem.

Actually, I’m not a liberal. I’m a conservative Christian. Also, you might be surprised to know that many on the left share your concerns about bathrooms. It’s not just a conservative vs. liberal issue. There’s nuance.

My duty is to protect my wife and children. They shouldn’t feel unsafe going to the bathroom at the mall. HB2 keeps them safe.

OK, let me phrase it another way: Do you think a gay man should be refused service at a restaurant just because he’s gay? Because that’s legal under HB2. I’m not talking about a wedding cake or religious liberty. I’m just talking about being refused service for a meal because he’s gay. Do you think that’s OK?

What’s not OK is allowing someone with a penis to use the same shower as my teenage daughter. What about her rights? We’re just going to have to agree to disagree.

But we’re actually in agreement. I don’t want boys showering with your daughter, either. Again, I think we can tweak things to make sure sexual predators aren’t allowed to shower with young girls while also making sure that open, general discrimination isn’t allowed.

Even kids know that boys use one bathroom and girls use another. This is a basic idea that’s been part of our societal construct for a long time. Again, this isn’t hard.

Friend, I must admit that this conversation has grown quite frustrating. We’re clearly in agreement on bathrooms. I don’t understand why you don’t care about the other aspects of the law.

We have to stand for what’s right. We can’t be bullied by Bruce Springsteen, PayPal, the NBA or anyone else. If HB2 prevents even one attack on a women or child in a public bathroom, then it’s worth it.

But don’t you think you can have safe bathrooms without other discrimination?

My wife shouldn’t have to share a shower with a man at the gym.

OK, this is just crazy. We’re talking about two different things.

I’ll tell you what’s crazy: being told I have to use the bathroom with a member of the opposite sex RIGHT THERE BESIDE ME.

But—

Bathrooms!

Aaaaaaand, scene.

The merry-go-round continues.

There’s still a lot of talk. But is anybody listening?

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Jason Foster
| @ByJasonFoster |
Charlotte native and longtime journalist whose work has also appeared in print and online for news outlets including SportingNews.com, The Charlotte Observer and The (Raleigh) News & Observer.