Update: Duke MSI Workshop and North Carolina House Bill 2

On May 26, MSI Integrity and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University co-convened an academic workshop on the design and efficacy of multi-stakeholder initiatives. Because core human rights protections are under threat in the workshop’s host state of North Carolina as a result of the passage of House Bill 2 (HB-2), MSI Integrity reached out to LGBTQ+ student groups at Duke University, as well as Equality North Carolina, and ultimately sent a letter to Duke University’s executive leadership, as detailed in our previous post.

The letter asked for transparency about how Duke University is responding to HB-2, and emphasized concerns expressed by LGBTQ+ students at the university. These concerns related to possible gaps in protection for gender expression in Duke’s anti-discrimination policies including its policies governing employment, lack of clarity as to when Duke would modify existing single-occupancy bathrooms at the university to signify that they are gender neutral and whether it would release a list of trans-safe spaces at the university and/or in Durham.

After sending this letter, we spoke with a senior university administrator and received the following information about the issues raised in the letter:

  • Regarding the Duke’s anti-discrimination policies, the university is currently reviewing its employment policies, although there is not a specific date for when this review will be complete, nor is it clear whether the review will specifically consider whether to add protections against discrimination based on gender expression.
  • There is not currently a timeline or plans to communicate publicly about progress to modify existing single-occupancy bathrooms at the university to signify that they are gender neutral. There is also not a specific university administrator who is responsible for the conversion process.
  • Duke does not have any plans or a timeline for compiling and publicly releasing a list of trans-safe spaces at the university and/or in Durham.

We are disappointed by Duke University’s lack of transparency about efforts to provide a safe environment for those whose rights are at risk as a result of the passage of HB-2. We will continue to constructively engage with LGBTQ+ students as well as university officials and will update this post if we learn more about how Duke is responding to student concerns highlighted in the letter.

We will also be sharing our findings from May’s academic workshop at Duke on multi-stakeholder initiatives later this year.

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