Equity & Diversity

Feds Drop Lawsuit Over N.C. Law as LGBT Advocates Vow to Continue Fight

By Evie Blad — April 14, 2017 2 min read
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The U.S. Department of Justice dropped an Obama-era lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s House Bill 2 “bathroom bill” Friday after the state’s legislature voted to replace the law with a new measure.

But civil rights groups say the law’s replacement does not eliminate concerns about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for the state’s residents, including transgender students in its public schools.

The move comes after the Trump administration backed away from the Obama administration’s efforts to protect transgender students, rescinding guidance that said Title IX requires public schools, colleges, and universities must respect students’ gender identity in decisions like pronoun usage and facilities access.

H.B. 2 prohibited local anti-discrimination ordinances and restricted access to restrooms and locker rooms in public buildings, including public schools, based on the biological sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, even if that sex differs from their current gender identity. Its replacement, H.B. 142, restricts school boards and other local public agencies from setting policies on access to multi-stall restrooms and other facilities, leaving that authority in the hands of the state. H.B. 142 also puts a freeze on local anti-discrimination ordinances until 2020.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal said Friday they planned to keep fighting the replacement law through a separate lawsuit the groups originally filed to challenge H.B. 2.

“The Trump Administration may want to use the fake repeal of H.B. 2 as an excuse to further turn their backs on the transgender community, but the rest of us aren’t going to give up that easily,” James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project, said in a statement. “We’ll continue this fight as long as it takes to truly strike down this disastrous law for good.”

North Carolina remains the only state to have passed a law that restricts transgender students’ facilities access in schools, but several other states are considering similar legislation this year.

Related reading on transgender students:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.