Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The passage of HB2 last month set off a firestorm of criticism and boycotts. (Photo: Nathania Johnson/flickr/cc)

After Outcry, North Carolina School System to 'Rethink' Pepper Spray

One board member seemingly cited anti-transgender legislation to justify policy

Nadia Prupis

A North Carolina school system representative said Wednesday that the district would "rethink" its position on allowing students to carry pepper spray on campus, after one board member's comments sparked outcry from LGBTQ advocates.

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education on Tuesday approved a policy that would allow students to carry pepper spray in the fall, which board member Chuck Hughes claimed would be useful to "female students" in light of the state's ongoing crackdown on transgender rights, the Salisbury Post reported.

The board amended certain rules dictating whether students may be able to carry defensive sprays and other items that could constitute weapons, such as personal razors. However, Hughes explicitly referenced the state's anti-LGBTQ legislation known as House Bill 2 (HB2), which requires people to use public bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex, rather than their gender identity.

"Depending on how the courts rule on the bathroom issues, it may be a pretty valuable tool to have on the female students if they go to the bathroom, not knowing who may come in," Hughes said.

Hughes walked back his statement on Wednesday, telling Buzzfeed News that his comments were "inappropriate" and that he had been referring not to transgender students, but to "perverts and pedophiles taking advantage of this law in bathrooms."

The rule change prompted outcry from groups like Equality NC and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Josh Wagner told local media that members "will discuss this further at the business meeting this month," citing state statutes saying mace and pepper spray are not prohibited items for schools.

For his part, Hughes told Buzzfeed that other board members told him they would "think this over again," and promised that he "personally will vote to put pepper spray back into the prohibited items list."

The passage of HB2 last month set off a firestorm of criticism and boycotts against North Carolina, including warnings from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that it violates civil rights protections and could result in loss of federal funds.

North Carolina and the DOJ filed dueling lawsuits this week over the bill, which U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch called "state-sponsored discrimination."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Biden Urged to Fire Covid Response Chief Over 'Damning' Failures

"Zients has failed to provide the materials necessary to improve the U.S. response, or the guidance necessary to keep the pandemic under control," argued one critic.

Jake Johnson ·

As Sinema Defends Filibuster, Progressives Say 'Vote Her the Hell Out'

"The filibuster is a meaningless Senate rule. It's a remnant of slavery used to block civil rights for generations."

Jake Johnson ·

Poor People's Campaign Readies 'Massive, Nonviolent' Effort to Save Democracy

"We are not in this for a moment, but for a movement," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. "Our deadline is victory."

Jake Johnson ·

Tsunami Triggered by Huge Volcanic Eruption Hits Tonga

The undersea volcano's eruption also sparked tsunami warnings for Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, and the West Coast of the United States.

Common Dreams staff ·

Sanders Says Manchin and Sinema Are Imperiling US Democracy

"It is a sad day when two members of the Democratic Caucus are prepared to allow the Freedom to Vote Act to fail and undermine the future of American democracy."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo