The objective of this project is to utilize the same strategies as Media and Social Justice in order to promote awareness about a particular issue or political movement, and to engage with it just as the editors of the book did. The issue I have chosen to focus on regards LGBT rights in North Carolina, where there has been anti-LGBT legislation passed that has raised concern with many of the state’s LGBT residents and allies alike.
In the same way that Media and Social Justice looked at different social issues, I will look at LGBT rights through the four strategies that were used in the book: frameworks, collaborations, power struggles, and media justice. Each of these tools have been utilized to make a stand in order to reflect the general dislike of the bill, and without the use of media, the mass disapproval of this bill, and the waves it stirred nationally would not have been felt as widely.
Frameworks: In March of 2016 a Bill was passed in the North Carolina Senate that was meant to promote personal privacy in the case of public restrooms. Thinkprogress.org discussed the bill when it was first written, “House Bill 2, passed into law in North Carolina on March 23, is colloquially known as the “bathroom law” and requires transgender people to use bathrooms that align with their sex marker at birth, not their gender identity. The bill — official title: Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act —”. This bill makes it so that transgender people are unable to use the bathrooms of the genders they identify with because it does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.
When an individual’s assigned gender does not match the gender they identify as, yet they cannot find acceptance as the gender they do identify as, they already feel enough feelings of disassociation with gender, by preventing them from going to the bathroom of the gender they identify as it only adds to this feeling of dissociation. There is often a fear of the other, and that is especially felt when it comes to transgender individuals. People do not always understand what it is like to not agree with the sex you were assigned, and because of that they are intimidated. Because of this fear, it has caused an entire law to be written and passed that discriminates against an entire group of people.
The legislation has caused a lot of backlash, and many people are unhappy that it was put in place to begin with. The bill has caused a lot of hate speech regarding LGBT individuals, which has caused a lot of reaction from those who are associated with the community in some way or another.
Collaborations: One of the first reactions to HB2 came in the form of celebrities and singers boycotting performances and appearances in North Carolina. Artists all over the country began to unite against the bill. If artists were not going to cancel their shows, they instead decided to donate the profits from their shows towards groups across the state the represented the LGBT community and its allies. Seeing these very powerful, very influential celebrities, many of which are not actually members of the LGBT community, just allies, is remarkable. It also helps to see the influence these people have. Instead of just watching everyday people stand up for their beliefs, we are seeing famous people who are often looked at as superior to the everyday person representing the same beliefs as an everyday person. Most recently, we have seen the NCAA, an extremely powerful and influential group protest hosting the NCAA March Madness Tournament in North Carolina because of HB2. By putting this type of pressure on the state at the risk of losing all the tourism associated with the event, it expresses the general dislike of the bill, and urges a change. No change means no game, and no game means a loss of potential profit coming into the state.
Power Struggles: This is more than just a struggle about being able to use public bathrooms. This is an attempt on a state to maintain discrimination based on sexual orientation, or gender identity, and by not fighting to correct this horrible injustice, it allows for other legislation to be passed that maintains prejudicial attitudes and sets back the progress made towards equality. There are many groups involved in the making of this decision. There are lawmakers, residents of North Carolina, and the members of businesses and companies located there. Each of these groups holds a heavy influence in the political sphere in North Carolina, and each group is struggling to hold power regarding the LGBT community and the rights it is allowed. When a large group of individuals share a belief that an issue is wrong, they can unite to cause change, as we have seen occurring in the case of North Carolina and the HB2 bill.
Media Justice: There is still significant coverage regarding HB2 in the news. The work of celebrities, lawmakers, and individuals has made it possible for changes to be made, as slow as it may seem they are happening. By putting it out there that people are unhappy with the decisions of lawmakers, and by having groups of people expressing this mass dislike, helps to make change possible. Just by getting the story of the bill online has made it possible for people to protest it.
This is such a personal topic, because as both a member of the LGBT community, and as the sister of an incoming college freshman who is going to UNC Greensboro, I have followed the progress of the changes being made to this bill. While there has been a significant amount of media backlash because of the bill, there is still a lot more work to be done before a significant change is made, but seeing effort from all across the country, particularly by young people who are unhappy, proves how capable each person is of making change happen.
The use of social media to make change is remarkable. A person is able to communicate a message or feeling across the country and to huge groups of people at a time. Instead of a single person having to express how they feel about a piece of anti-LGBT legislation, there is the opportunity for that person to express their feelings to a huge group of people simultaneously. And people with similar beliefs all across the country are uniting in order to make big social changes. In a changing world, there is no option to exclude others. We must fight to make sure every person is treated equally in the eyes of the law, regardless of sex, race, and sexual orientation- and the first step is to take actions to repeal HB2.