An image of a memorial to Ash Haffner, who died by suicide in 2015

The youth suicide rate has increased in North Carolina since the start of the decade. Nationally, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young adults between ages 15 and 19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.  

Meanwhile, LGBT youth are twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual peers. Organizations including the Child Fatality Task Force and the Wake County Public School System have offered policy recommendations and programs to prevent the rising teenage suicide rate.

Courtesy of Zanele Muholi

In 2006, South Africa became the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. While social justice activists around the world saw this event as a tremendous victory, the country was still in a lot of turmoil. Homophobic hate crimes and violence were on the rise, and many individuals reported being subject to “curative rape,” a hate crime in which someone is raped to “cure” them of their sexual identity.

patmccrory / YouTube

Gov. Pat McCrory has released a campaign ad that pushes back against the outcry over North Carolina's HB2.

Photo of Rome's Gay Pride parade
Fabio Frustaci / AP Photo

LGBT issues continue to make headlines across the country, whether it's in regards to North Carolina's controversial HB2 or how the presidential candidates plan to address LGBT rights.

But how does the U.S. compare to other countries in terms of cultural support and government policies for its LGBT community?

Justin Natvig as Vivian Vaughn
D.j. Bonet V'lentino & After Six Photography Studios

Justin Natvig has had a flair for performance most of his life. As a young kid, he often snuck into his grandparents’ attic and dug through his grandmother’s things: vintage dresses, hats, wigs, shoes and makeup. He would put it all on, play Diana Ross records and lip sync in front of the mirror. For many years, he kept this passion a secret as he struggled with a family that would not accept his identity. 

Image of bathroom sign
The LEAF Project / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina lawmakers tweaked the controversial law known as House Bill 2 in the last hours of the state’s legislative session on Friday night, restoring the right to sue in state court for discriminatory firings.

Seven poets from across the US share new works written and posted to Facebook within one day of the recent mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. These poems are raw, personal, and earnest. 

In the wake of such horrific violence, host Will McInerney passes the mic to seven writers to help us understand what happened at the Pulse nightclub on June 12th. When the country is collectively at a loss for words, sometimes poets can help us find them. Subscribe to this Podcast  

photo of a unisex bathroom sign
Tombe / Wikipedia

North Carolina’s House Bill 2 has stirred up numerous conversations about the lives of transgender Americans. It has also illuminated many misconceptions about what gender identity is and how it is formed.

Groups of scientists have stood up in opposition to HB2, arguing that there are genetic and biological causes of gender differences, and for the vast majority of trans individuals, their gender identity is not a choice.

Hunter Schafer, 17, is a transgender student at the UNC School of the Arts.
Hunter Schafer / via Instagram

Hunter Schafer is one of several North Carolina residents challenging the state's controversial new discrimination law in federal court.

Gov Pat McCrory speaks to reporters about the state's HB2 lawsuit
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has sued the U.S. government and the Justice Department, asking federal courts to clarify a controversial new state law that limits transgender access to bathrooms.

The Justice Department in turn filed its own lawsuit against the state, saying the law restricting use of public restrooms by transgender people constitutes a pattern of discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity.

Allen County Public Library via Flickr

The U.S. Department of Justice has notified Governor Pat McCrory that House Bill 2 violates Title IX of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, potentially jeopardizing millions in federal funding for public schools.

The department, in a letter signed Wednesday, gave state officials until Monday to respond confirming whether or not they will comply with their advisory. If the department’s opinion is upheld by the courts, North Carolina could lose federal school funding for violation of Title IX, which bars discrimination in education based on gender.

John King
U.S. Department of Education / Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. Secretary of Education John King spoke out against North Carolina's controversial new law limiting bathroom access in public schools.

At a conference for education writers in Boston, King called the law known as HB 2 and a similar law in Mississippi "hateful," and said lawmakers should repeal it.

HB2, House Bill 2, Chambers of Commerce
New Media Campaigns

The state legislature begins its short session today. Regardless of the official calendar, the issue on many people’s minds is North Carolina’s new law limiting discrimination protections.  Local business groups are calling for its repeal.

Donald Trump
Greg Richter / Flickr Creative Commons

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has weighed in against North Carolina's controversial discrimination law.

UNC School of the Arts high school junior Hunter Schafer breaks the law every time she uses the women's restroom at school.
Emme Black

One of the largest groups most affected by House Bill 2, or HB2,  is the state’s public school students. More than a million North Carolina students spend most of their day in facilities where they are now prohibited from using restrooms that do not correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates. This new law presents problems for the state's transgender students and conflicts with several school districts’ practice of allowing students to use the restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

North Carolina has been the epicenter of a national controversy for more than a week, after state lawmakers convened a special session to undo a Charlotte ordinance aimed at providing protections to people who are transgender. The General Assembly enacted legislation that superseded that local ordinance, and also went further in scope.

Image of bathroom sign
The LEAF Project / Flickr Creative Commons

The Charlotte City Council passed an ordinance to include non-discrimination protections for the LGBT community.

Although the expanded protection includes a variety of changes, the most controversial measure allows transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice.

The city council voted 7-4 in favor of the ordinance expansion, but Governor Pat McCrory and other Republican legislators have indicated the state may intervene.

Headshot Photo of Terri Phoenix, the director of the LGBTQ Center at UNC-Chapel Hill.

This is a rebroadcast of a program that aired last year.

Terri Phoenix (T) grew up always feeling like an outsider. As a young child in a poor, fragmented family, Terri moved around more than 10 times before starting high school and was always the "new kid."

I Don't Do Boxes is a new LGBTQ magazine created by and for queer youth.

I Don't Do Boxes is a new magazine that explores and documents the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender experience in the southeast United States. The magazine was founded and edited by the youth-led media program QueerLab. Each issue is designed to provide a unique look at what it means to be queer in the South by tackling topics like identifying as LGBTQ in school or the power of documenting LGBTQ voices.

Duke University Chapel
OZinOH / Flickr/Creative Commons

Duke University has added a question to its undergraduate application regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

The question is an optional essay on the Duke-specific section of the Common App: a generic application used by more than 500 schools. The question allows respondents to discuss personal experiences based on their upbringing, sexual orientation, gender identity, or cultural background.


The Levine Museum of the New South recently unveiled a historic exhibit that spotlights the LGBTQ community of Charlotte. 


Tim Anderson grew up in north Raleigh as a gay, sugar-obsessed teenager.

Photo: Desks and book bags in a classroom
Thomas Favre Bulle via Flickr

The state House of Representatives has sent Gov. Pat McCrory a bill updating laws on charter schools.  This comes over the objections of Democrats who asked that LGBT students be specifically protected from discrimination.

Democrats asked that Senate Bill 793 include a provision preventing charter schools, which are run by private companies with tax-payer money, from barring the admission of students who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.


Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara is an ordained minister and published author who uses her faith work and fiction writing to create new strategies for supporting LGBT communities in the South. 

Meet Terri Phoenix

Apr 21, 2014
Headshot photo of Terri Phoenix, the director of the LGBTQ Center at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Terri Phoenix (T) grew up always feeling like an outsider. As a young child in a poor, fragmented family, Terri moved around more than ten times before starting high school and was always the "new kid."