Northeastern criticizes N.C. gay bias law

Published in The Boston Globe March 28 print

Northeastern University, which has a regional campus in North Carolina, is speaking out against a new law in that state that prevents communities from passing antidiscrimination laws protecting gay and transgender people.

“At Northeastern University we believe diversity is a strength to be celebrated, not a source of division,” president Joseph E. Aoun said in a statement.

“Diversity in all its forms—race, gender, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity — enhances the pursuit of knowledge and prepares people to thrive in a pluralistic society, he said.

Northeastern’s regional campus in Charlotte, N.C., which opened in 2012, offers graduate degrees in such areas as business, health care, and education.

North Carolina lawmakers passed the legislation — often called the “bathroom bill” — Wednesday during a special session.

In addition to the curbs on antidiscrimination ordinances, the measure bars transgender individuals from using public restrooms that match their gender identity.

The law will go into effect on April 1.
Michael Armini, Northeastern’s senior vice president for external affairs, said Aoun’s decision to speak out against the law is in line with the university’s values.

Other universities in North Carolina, including Duke and Wake Forest, have spoken out against the law, Armini said. Such major companies as Apple, PayPal, Facebook, Dow Chemical, Biogen, and American Airlines have also objected to the law, according to news reports.

The law isn’t expected to have a direct impact on Northeastern’s campus in North Carolina, Armini said, because it is a private institution.

But he said diversity and inclusion are part of the university’s “strong pluralistic community.”

Armini said the campus should be a safe place, where people of every possible background, belief, or orientation are treated equally.

“What happened in North Carolina was disappointing,” he said.

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