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Politics & Government

It's Possible N.C. 'Bathroom Law' Will Be Repealed, State Rep. Bell Says


The fallout continues over what's come to be known as North Carolina's bathroom law. That new state law blocks local governments in North Carolina from passing their own nondiscrimination laws.


Laws that would include expanding LGBT protections, like allowing transgender people to choose between men's and women's bathrooms.

MONTAGNE: Some state lawmakers there are having second thoughts about the bill, including our next guest. Representative Larry Bell points out that a special session was called to consider the bill and the vote came too quickly for him to read much more than the parts he thought would appeal to his conservative, rural constituents. Then this former superintendent of schools got a call from a student he once coached.

LARRY BELL: The student was one of my smartest students that I have ever taught. And he was telling me that he was a part of the LGBT community. And he asked, well, did I know that? And I told him, no, I didn't. That kind of opened my eyes that people were looking at us and thinking that we were hate-mongers or something like that because we voted for that bill.

MONTAGNE: Which also quickly gave rise to calls to boycott the state. This outcry, I mean, are people, do you think, there in North Carolina concerned about the loss of business, the loss of travelers...

BELL: Definitely, definitely...

MONTAGNE: ...The loss of...

BELL: We're just kind of recovering from the recession. And I think this is a real bad time for us to be losing jobs. And I think everybody will have a concern about that. This is not an issue that we need to be dealing with. We are a state that in the past, I think, we have taken the lead. When I was in college, we started sit-in demonstrations. Discrimination is not in my blood. And I just feel like that's the way a lot of people feel, and they would probably be willing to try to take North Carolina out of that.

MONTAGNE: Do you think that repealing this law is a realistic possibility?

BELL: I think with the outcry, that is a possibility. I think a lot of people, since they were rushed into it, would probably reconsider and probably say we don't need the bill at all. I mean, which is my position. I don't think we needed it at all.

MONTAGNE: So if a trans woman wanted to use a public restroom designated as a women's restroom, you would not have a problem with that?

BELL: No, I would assume that if it's a trans woman, they would look like a woman and probably there wouldn't be any problem, just like now. Nobody asks any questions

MONTAGNE: Well, just to clarify, if this law came up to be repealed, would you vote to repeal this law?

BELL: I would, yes.

MONTAGNE: Well, thank you very much for joining us and talking about this.

BELL: OK, thank you.

MONTAGNE: Larry Bell is a Democratic state representative in North Carolina. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.