Image: Getty

Thanks to a new rule passed by one North Carolina board of education, students in Salisbury-area high schools will be allowed to carry pepper spray with them on campus in the upcoming school year. According to one board member, the spray could be “pretty valuable” for female students, in case they encounter a trans woman in the bathroom.

The frightening remark, first reported by the Salisbury Post and later picked up by the Associated Press, came from a Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education member named Chuck Hughes. From the Post:

Board member Chuck Hughes was in favor of the sprays on campuses, saying that in his mind, they were purely defensive. He also referenced HB2, saying that the sprays might be useful.

“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,” he said.

Mr. Hughes’ remark is a perfect encapsulation of everything wrong with the right-wing rhetoric surrounding HB2, the so-called “bathroom bill.” One obvious point is that HB2 bans trans people from using the bathrooms that correspond to their gender; it doesn’t open those bathrooms up to them. Paranoid cis people don’t need pepper spray to shield them from whatever they’re so scared of. The law already does that for them.

More importantly, the remark makes plain a sad truth that lawmakers’ absurd rhetoric about “protecting” cis people attempts to conceal. There is no statistical evidence of trans people committing assault when using the bathrooms of their choice. There are, however, countless documented cases of trans people being berated, beaten, and worse by those who take their very existence as some grave offense—including, yes, in bathrooms. Pepper spray wouldn’t help cis students defend themselves against their trans classmates; it would help them attack. HB2 isn’t about making bathrooms safer for cis people. It’s about making them more dangerous for trans people.

h/t Daily Beast