Thursday, March 31, 2016

Framing: North Carolina and the "Bathroom Bill"

North Carolina's state legislature passed HB2 last week, which was quickly signed by Gov. Pat McCrory that same night. Known across the media and to opponents as the "Bathroom Bill," the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act denies transgender people the use of the  bathroom, changing room or locker room that matches their gender identity. The law is widely regarded as an extreme retaliation against the city of Charlotte's civil rights ordinance that expanded protections for individuals on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression. The ordinance featured the controversial guarantee that transgender people would be allowed to use their prefered bathroom.
Proponents claim that the law protects women and children from sexual predators that may take advantage of the law. However, there has never been a single reported case of a trans person harming or attacking another person in a public facility such as a bathroom. Lawmakers, journalists, and activists across the country are increasingly calling for the bill's dismissal. A lawsuit has already been filed by two transgender individuals and an array of civil rights groups - including the ACLU - against HB2.

The Washington Post:

The Washington Post article adopts frames the legislative controversy through a political lense. Pulled sources include the state's attorney general, the governor, the mayor of Charlotte, the San Francisco mayor, the governor of New York, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue , and the state governors of South Dakota and Georgia who have beaten down similar bills in their own states. The article also cites a transgender women and Raleigh resident, comments on local news websites (debating the law) and the ACLU lawsuit. The story then goes on, after multiple condemnations from outside politicos cited, to the political blame-game happening amongst North Carolina legislators. The lengthy article concludes with touching upon the upcoming gubernatorial elections and how the fate of this bill may lie in the November. The Washington Post articles generally adapts a political and objective point of view. While generally in line with traditional journalism, the Post's inclusion of choice quotes speaking against the law by important political figures helps the reader invest in the outcome of the story. The inclusion of a video of attorney general Roy Cooper refusing to defend the new state law  at the beginning of the article steers readers to a more sympathetic response. While the Post aims to keep its article apolitical, the choice of sources and quotes demonstrates a more liberal, sympathetic frame.

Rolling Stone: 

The Rolling Stone article is framed in support of transgender people and their civil rights. The article opens sympathetically, relating everyone's daily bathroom experiences to ones of the complicated emotions that trans people endure. The article cites reader testimonials of their experiences as trans people in North Carolina and public restrooms to explore the point of view of the marginalized. Through the illumination that the harassment that often affects trans people in public restroom spaces, the Rolling Stone article discredits the law's reasoning and emphasizes the struggles, fear, and concern that trans people constantly maintain for their safety. The sympathetic wording at the beginning of the article and lengthy list of testimonials frames this article in support of trans people and against HB2. 


The Democracy Now! article takes a more definitive stance against the implementation of HB2. The title of the article - "North Carolina: Flush Your Bathroom Bill Down the Toilet" - asserts the author's (and by association Democracy Now!'s) point of view immediately. Pulled quotes from a staff attorney from the ACLU and transgender students frames the story against the law and its principles. Noteworthy stances against the bill, including by the NBA and NC attorney general Roy Cooper, emphasize the valid points of view that are against the bill. Finally, the last sentence of the article clearly shifts away from objectivity to sympathy: "Let’s celebrate love, acceptance and equality. Take American politics out of the toilet."

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