Raleigh, N.C. — Three freshmen senators said Tuesday that they want to head off a policy that would allow students of the opposite sex to start sharing bathrooms and common living areas in University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus housing suites and apartments next fall.
Senate Bill 658 would override the gender-neutral housing policy that the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees adopted in November. Siblings and married couples would be the only members of the opposite sex who could be assigned to the same room, suite or apartment on campus under the proposal.
“The purpose of this bill is to help the UNC system regain its focus on the core mission of educating young people and helping them find meaningful employment in our state,” Sen. David Curtis, R-Lincoln, said in a statement. “UNC did not become a national leader in academics by wasting time and tax dollars on frivolous social experiments.”
Supporters of the gender-neutral option say the policy would benefit students – specifically gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students – who are being harassed and bullied in traditional on-campus housing. Junior Kevin Claybren, a student coordinator for the Gender Non-Specific Housing Coalition, called the bill "really sad."
"Having an opportunity to be in a room with someone that actually cares and wants you to succeed and is not going to bully you or tarnish your character is something that every Tar Heel and every person deserves," Claybren said.
Chancellor Holden Thorp said the policy change was vital to protecting the safety of UNC-Chapel Hill students.
Sens. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, and Ben Clarke, D-Cumberland, also are sponsoring the bill.