21c Museum Hotels, the art-centric North Carolina–based chain, spoke out today against House Bill 2, a law that requires North Carolinians to use bathrooms that correspond to their “biological sex.” And they’re not the only people in the art world to publicly come out against the law, either. Last week, Eric Shiner, the director of the Andy Warhol Museum, called off a visit to the University of North Carolina, writing in a statement, “Until that bill is revoked, I do not feel comfortable or safe coming to North Carolina.”
House Bill 2 is a state law that forbids local municipalities from creating their own legislation about employment and public facilities. The bill, which passed in North Carolina’s overwhelmingly Republican General Assembly last month, makes it so that the bathroom a person uses must correlate with their “biological sex,” effectively restricting transgender rights. Unisex bathrooms are still legal, but they must be single-occupancy, according to the law.
In a statement today, 21c Museum Hotels made clear that the hotel chain does not stand with the bill. Below is their statement.
21c Museum Hotel was conceived as a space where contemporary art – sometimes whimsical, sometimes inspiring, often challenging – can be transformative; a venue for exploring what is relevant today through different lenses. We cherish artists’ ability to lend unique and powerful voice to distinct perspectives on the most important issues of our time. We do not strive for unanimous acceptance of the works, but we hope the experience will facilitate conversation. Unfettered expression is the heart of our mission. Individuality is the cornerstone of our culture. It is in the spirit of these values, and with commitment to our community, our guests, our employees, and the artists whose work we display, that we share this statement: It is demoralizing that sanctioned discrimination could be a cause contemplated, let alone endorsed, by public officials elected to represent a diverse and complete constituency. We are proud that the vibrant city of Durham is home to 21c Museum Hotel, and we humbly stand with fellow North Carolinians who petition the repeal of House Bill 2.
In response to the bill, 21c Museum Hotels has also commissioned the artist Peregrine Honig to design bathroom signs that combine male and female bodies. Under the figure on these signs is the phrase WE DON’T CARE. “21c feels this installation gives the community another way to engage in conversation around this important issue,” a release reads. “First and foremost, this is a human issue. 21c simply opposes discrimination. But officials should understand that this human issue does have economic implications – both in lost revenue for the state and for individual business owners.”