Duke LGBTQ+ Network statement regarding recent legislation

In light of recent legislation introduced in North Carolina, we, united members of the Duke University LGBTQ+ community, call on Duke to uphold its responsibility to support transgender North Carolinians. Currently, the NC General Assembly is considering three discriminatory bills: SB-514, SB-515, and HB-358. Broadly speaking, these bills criminalize providing gender-related healthcare to people under the age of 21, allow healthcare providers to refuse care to the LGBTQ+ community, and prevent transgender youth from playing on sports teams that reflect their gender identity. These bills also stand in direct conflict with Duke’s values of respect and inclusion.

The Duke University Health System is a leading provider of medical care for transgender patients in North Carolina. The proposed legislation criminalizes medically necessary treatments for patients under the age of 21 and penalizes medical professionals who provide this care. As the only medical school in the South with an adolescent gender clinic, an adult gender clinic, and a sexual and gender minority primary care clinic, the university has a responsibility to support transgender patients and medical staff by opposing SB-514 and SB-515.

HB-358 ignores existing guidelines from the NCAA and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association while attempting to block transgender athletes from participating in sports at the middle school, high school, and intercollegiate level. Additionally, the bill’s authors cite research from Duke University School of Law as justification. More than 10 other bills around the nation also reference Duke University in a similar manner. Allowing state legislatures to invoke Duke’s reputation as a world-class research institution to discriminate against others is unconscionable and will do extreme and long-lasting reputational damage to the university, the law school, and the athletic department. We encourage the university to join the NCAA in condemning this type of legislation and withdraw any funding, branding, and university support for activities that seek to harm and spread misinformation about transgender people, particularly transgender youth.

Duke cannot claim to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and gender expression while allowing groups to use its name to target transgender youth with discriminatory legislation across the country. Nor can the university stand idle as the medical care it provides to transgender patients is challenged. We call upon the university to issue a public statement as it did in 2016 regarding HB-2 (“The Bathroom Bill”). As a leading medical, research, and athletic institution, Duke University has a responsibility to protect transgender individuals, especially transgender youth, and affirm its values. If the university does not speak for itself, its silence will.


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