Daily Video

April 29, 2016

Fallout from transgender law hits North Carolina’s wallet

Essential question

How have people used economics means to protest state and federal laws throughout U.S. history?

Last month, North Carolina lawmakers passed House Bill 2 requiring people to use the public bathroom matching the gender on their birth certificate. The law also bars any city in the state from passing anti-LGBT discrimination laws in the future.

Since the bill’s passage, supporters of LGBT rights have made their displeasure known in ways designed to affect North Carolina’s economy. The company Pay Pal pulled out of business dealings in the state and musicians Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam cancelled concerts.

The impact is being felt. Organizers of North Carolina’s High Point Market, the largest furniture industry trade show in the world, say customers are choosing not to attend the show. The market generates over $5 billion a year, $600 million of which is from visitors and tourism, according to Duke University’s Lukas Brun.

Mitchell Gold, co-founder of a high-end furniture chain, sees the difference and is hoping to use it as an opportunity.

“It’s not just that the attendance is down. It’s the buying power’s down. Williams-Sonoma, who owns Pottery Barn and West Elm, they’re not coming to market. And what I have asked people to do is, buycott, B-U-Y-C-O-T-T, us at the market, because we’re a company that doesn’t support this legislation,” he said.

But supporters of HB2 have also been conducting their own protests in support of the law and many businesses have signed statements in support of HB2.

“It would allow any man to go into any women’s restroom, girls’ locker room, women’s shower, girls’ shower facility, and be able to get away with it,” said North Carolina’s Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

Organizers at High Point say it will be at least a week before attendance numbers are in and the full effect of HB2 can be assessed.

Key terms

boycott — withdraw from commercial or social relations with a country, organization or person as a punishment or protest

anti-discrimination protection — legislation ensuring protection for LGBT individuals from discrimination

Warm up questions (before watching the video)
  1. Are there companies or businesses you avoid because you disagree with their policies?
  2. What are some famous examples of boycotts used to evoke social or legislative change?
  3. What kinds of protections exist for LGBT individuals in your state?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
  1. What do you think of the argument that HB2 will protect women and children?
  2. Will boycotting businesses and industries in North Carolina have an effect on lawmakers there? Why or why not?
  3. What other ways, besides boycotting, are protesters voicing their opposition to HB2? Are these more or less effective?
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