Tricia Cotham

RALEIGH, N.C. — Four Democratic lawmakers have introduced a new state employment non-discrimination bill. Unlike a similar bill introduced in late March, the bill introduced Tuesday would also extend protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to teachers and other school staff across the state.

Tricia Cotham

“We know that in North Carolina today, decent, hardworking people can be fired simply because of who they are or who they love,” Stuart Campbell, executive director of the statewide LGBT advocacy and education group, Equality North Carolina, said in a statement. “We applaud this additional effort to protect our state’s most vulnerable public employees.”

House Bill 647 was introduced by Reps. Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg), Marcus Brandon (D-Guilford), Susi Hamilton (D-Brunswick, New Hanover), and Darren Jackson (D-Wake).

The bill seeks to add the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to the State Personnel Act. The bill also includes a new provision requiring local boards of educations to adopt employment non-discrimination policies that mirror the state’s. All school personnel, including teachers and other staff, would be protected under the new law.

A spokesman for North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis told qnotes last week the Cornelius representative had no comment on the employment legislation introduced in March. Requests for comment from Senate leader Phil Berger’s and Gov. Pat McCrory’s offices have not been returned.

Equality North Carolina is scheduled to hold its annual lobby day next week. Residents from across the state will travel to Raleigh to speak to their legislators. The group says it will focus on the employment non-discrimination bills.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.