Equity & Diversity

Repeal of ‘Bathroom Bill’ Fails in North Carolina

By Evie Blad — December 21, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A promised repeal of North Carolina’s controversial state law that limits restroom access for transgender students in public schools failed Wednesday evening.

HB2 is an expansive law that prohibits local anti-discrimination ordinances. It also requires public buidings, including public schools, to restrict restroom access by a person’s sex at birth, even if it differs from the gender they identify with.

The Obama administration has said such restrictions violate the federal sex discrimination protections in Title IX.

After calling a special session to repeal the law, a planned compromise unraveled, and lawmakers adjourned with the law intact.

That means public debate over the divisive law, including several suits and counter suits between the state and the U.S. Department of Justice, will continue.

Governor-elect Roy Cooper, a Democrat, announced plans to repeal the law earlier this week. Lawmakers agreed to strike the law on the condition that Charlotte repealed a local anti-discrimination ordinance that inspired lawmakers to pass HB2 in a whirlwind special session in the spring.

The Charlotte City Council originally repealed only portions of the ordinance Tuesday, but called an emergency meeting to strike the whole thing Wednesday out of concern the compromise would fail at the state legislature.

“This was our best chance,” a frustrated Cooper said in a press conference after the legislature adjourned. “It cannot be our last chance.”

Regardless of the fate of HB2, the federal interpretation of Title IX as it relates to transgender students is before several federal courts. And the U.S. Supreme Court is schedule to hear a case centered on the issue next year.

President-elect Donald Trump has not said how his administration will handle the issue, but transgender student advocates are anxious that a reversal in federal interpretation of Title IX by his socially conservative cabinet picks may unravel progress they’ve made on the issue in recent years.

Student protesters showed up to support HB2’s repeal Wednesday.

The Senate has adjourned. Crowd begins to chant "shame" as we leave the chamber #RepealHB2 pic.twitter.com/Qp52xqmT2R -- NC NAACP (@ncnaacp) December 22, 2016

Related reading on transgender students:

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