North Carolina bathroom bill makes pepper spray ‘valuable tool’ for students: school board member

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A school board in North Carolina adopted a policy Monday allowing high school students to carry pepper spray, while one board member suggested the policy would be good in case students encounter a transgender classmate in a washroom.

According to the Salisbury Post, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education debated Monday night whether to allow its high school students to carry defensive sprays on school grounds.

Citing the controversial HB2 law, the anti-LGBT “bathroom bill” that limits public bathroom access by transgender people, board member Chuck Hughes said defensive sprays in schools might be useful.

READ MORE: Debate over transgender bathroom law spreads across U.S.

“Depending on how the courts rule on the bathroom issues, it may be a pretty valuable tool to have on the female students if they go to the bathroom, not knowing who may come in,” the Salisbury Post quoted Hughes as saying.

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Some board members were concerned the sprays would be used for other than the purpose of self-defence while others welcomed the policy change.

“I imagine every football game there is on Friday night there’s more pepper spray in the stands in pocketbooks and key chains and you know, we never have an issue with it,” Travis Allen said.

On Wednesday, Hughes backtracked on his “poorly worded” policy comments.

“It was inappropriate for me to say that. I did not mean for it to be discriminatory. I wish I hadn’t said that at all,” Hughes told WFMY 2 News.

READ MORE: US Attorney General says transgender bathroom law is part of civil rights struggle

The school board chair, Josh Wagner, also issued a statement to the news channel saying the policy change had nothing to do with the HB2 law.

“This discussion in no way addressed the issue that Mr. Hughes brought up. He is certainly entitled to his opinion and comments,” reads a portion of the statement. “However, that idea had no bearing on the situation or discussion. I assure you that the board did not see this as an opportunity to endorse the use of sprays in school for any reason.

“Because of information that has been brought to my attention following the meeting, this will be addressed again at the business meeting this month,“ Wagner said in the statement.