North Carolina’s Republican-led general assembly voted on Aug. 16 to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill that restricts discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools and expands parents’ access to information about their children’s education.
The “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” which is now passed into law after both chambers voted to override the veto, bans talk of sexual orientation and gender identity for students in kindergarten through fourth grade. It also requires parental notification prior to any changes in a child’s name or pronoun use at school, among other provisions.
The GOP enjoys veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly. Putting those majorities to use on Aug. 16, Republicans in the Senate and House also overrode the governor’s vetoes of two other bills related to transgender youth.
The first of those bills was House Bill 574, or the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” which bars biological males from joining girls’ middle school, high school, and college sports teams.
The second vote overrode Mr. Cooper’s veto of House Bill 808, dubbed the “Youth Health Protection Act.” The bill prohibits medical professionals from providing hormonal treatments, puberty-suppressing drugs, and sex reassignment surgeries for those under the age of 18, with limited exceptions. The measure also bars the use of state funds for such treatments.
North Carolina is the 22nd state to enact restrictions on sex reassignment procedures for minors, though some of the other states’ laws are tied up in court.
‘No Place for Politicians’
Initially passed by lawmakers in June, the three bills were dead on arrival on the governor’s desk.
In vetoing them on July 5, Mr. Cooper denounced the measures as a political stunt Republicans were using to “invade the rights and responsibilities of parents and doctors, hurting vulnerable children, and damaging our state’s reputation and economy.”
As the legislature went over his head on Aug. 16, the governor expressed his outrage at the legislation as discriminatory and accused Republicans of having “the wrong priorities.”
And the governor was not the bills’ only critic.
For instance, Democratic state Rep. John Autry of Mecklenburg County, who has a transgender grandchild, was overcome with emotion when he urged his colleagues to “just stop it” before they voted 73-46 to enact the “Youth Protection Act.”
Meanwhile, Democratic state Rep. Marcia Morey of Durham County described the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” as “mean-spirited.”
“We’re not talking about world-class athletes, Olympic athletes, and someone being deprived a medal,” she said. “We’re talking about kids—middle school, high school—who try to find their identity, who try to find their reason to belong with others. Especially if they have gender identity issues.
“This shouldn’t be a law that the legislature passes,” she added. “Let the governing sports bodies pass their regulations. They’re much more attuned to fairness in sports than politicians are.”
Ultimately, the House voted 74-45 to pass the bill, followed by the Senate in a 27-18 vote.
Despite Democrats’ protestations, proponents of the bills have argued that they serve to protect children and the rights of parents.
“The Fairness in Women’s Sports bill will help to ensure fairness and safety for North Carolina girls and young women athletes in middle school and college,” Republican state Rep. Jennifer Balkcom of Henderson County contended.
Additionally, some members of the LGBT community have spoken out in favor of the legislation.
Gays Against Groomers North Carolina—a nonprofit that opposes the “sexualization, indoctrination, and medicalization” of children—cheered the thought of North Carolina banning sex reassignment surgeries for children.
“No child is born in the wrong body!” the group wrote in an X post.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.