“You know, I’m 52,” says Linda Bourne, owner of Spotted Dog restaurant in Carrboro. “I’m from the personal is political era. This is my personal business, and I have a right to make decisions that support my personal politics.”
After HB2 passed, the city of Carrboro sent out a notice on their listserv asking businesses to convert their restrooms to gender neutral if they could. Prior to HB2, Linda had male-female signs up on the single stall bathrooms, figuring that her customers would “use whatever bathroom [they] identify with on whatever day it is.” But HB2, paired with the email from the city, prompted her to take action. She couldn’t find a gender neutral sign at any of the stores that she visited, so she made her own signs, put them up, and prepared for the worst.
One table walked out upon seeing the signs, but otherwise the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Still, Linda welcomes negative reactions and sees them as teaching moments. She passed out a script to her staff so that they could explain the changes to customers. “If you lose somebody,” Linda says, “if their mind closes, you’ve lost that teaching moment. And when you lose that teaching moment, you lose the opportunity to make change. Because you can’t force change.”
For Linda, the decision to take a stand was clear-cut, even if she risked driving customers away. “There’s no amount of money worth it in this world to make a business decision that overrides what is just the right thing to do. Life is way too short to not do the right thing.”