Greensboro Symposium 2017 and HB2

The SMTE Executive Committee met on September 9 & 10, 2016, for our annual biennial planning meeting for the Symposium on Music Teacher Education. Information about the impact of North Carolina House Bill 2 was a critical part of our discussion, and we would like to share that information with the SMTE community.

As many of you are aware, NC House Bill 2 (or HB2) is the law passed by NC state legislators and signed by NC Governor Pat McCrory on March 23, 2016 requiring individuals to use public bathrooms that correspond to the biological sex indicated on their birth certificates rather than the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. There are additional provisions of the law that change the way people pursue claims of discrimination because of race, religion, color, national origin, biological sex or handicap in state courts by shortening the window for filing complaints from three years to one.

UNC System President Margaret Spellings sent an April 5, 2016 memorandum to UNC system chancellors in which she clarified that universities were not required to change any of their nondiscrimination policies due to the law, and that those policies should remain in effect. On August 27, due to an impending lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of HB2, a federal court judge issued an injunction against the enforcement of the law within the UNC system of universities (of which UNCG is a part), essentially supporting President Spellings’ earlier memo.

Our discussions in planning for the 2017 Symposium revealed several important points on which every member of the committee agreed:

  1. We recognize and take seriously the concerns of our members regarding the negative impact of HB2 on members of the Society for Music Teacher Education;
  2. We also take seriously the principled positions that many of our members have expressed: that they will choose not to attend the 2017 Symposium in North Carolina if HB2 is still in effect. Additionally, we take into consideration the reality of travel restrictions imposed on employees of some states in response to the NC law;
  3. We affirm that SMTE is an organization committed to promoting inclusion, diversity, equity, access, and de-marginalization in all areas of our profession.

Thus, this communication is to let our members know that the Executive Committee is aware of the issues associated with holding the 2017 Symposium in North Carolina if a repeal of HB2 is not implemented by that time. We are working with all due speed on a resolution to the issue and once we have a concrete solution, we will share it with you. Thanks to all of our members who have communicated with us on this issue. Your thoughts have informed this process in important ways.

— The SMTE Executive Committee