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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 2, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 36
Federal judge bars North Carolina from enforcing 'bathroom bill':

Cites Title IX sex discrimination language
Section One
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Federal judge bars North Carolina from enforcing 'bathroom bill':

Cites Title IX sex discrimination language

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The University of North Carolina (UNC) may not enforce the 'bathroom bill' section of HB 2, the law that imposed extreme restrictions on the rights of the state's LGBT residents, a federal judge has ruled.

In his August 26 ruling, US District Judge Thomas Schroeder found in favor of the Transgender plaintiffs who sued the state after HB 2 was enacted.

The case was brought by the ACLU and Lambda Legal on behalf of several North Carolina residents, including professors and students at UNC schools.

Schroeder issued a preliminary injunction against enforcing the portion of HB 2 that barred Trans people from using gender-appropriate restrooms, based on prior case law.

Specifically, he pointed to the case G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, in which the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals - which has jurisdiction over cases originating in North Carolina - held that Title IX's ban on sex discrimination protected Trans people as well as cisgender women.

'Part I's wholesale ban on access to facilities is inconsistent with [the Department of Education's] guidance on Title IX compliance under G.G.,' Schroeder said.

'Accordingly, the court will enjoin UNC from enforcing Part I against the individual transgender Plaintiffs until the court reaches a final decision on the merits in this case,' he concluded.

Finally, Schroeder noted that 'this injunction returns the parties to the status quo ante as it existed in Title IX facilities prior to Part I [of HB 2]'s passage in March 2016,' meaning that the court found credible evidence that Trans people had been using gender-appropriate facilities before HB 2 was enacted, without causing harm to the state or its cisgender residents.

'Ultimately, the record reflects what counsel for Gov. [Pat] McCrory candidly speculates was the status quo ante in North Carolina in recent years: some transgender individuals have been quietly using bathrooms and other facilities that match their gender identity, without public awareness or incident,' Schroeder wrote.

However, the judge also ruled that the plaintiffs could not show that they were likely to succeed on an equal protection challenge to the law, and consequently he declined to rule on their due process claim at this time.

Schroeder's reliance on the Obama administration's reading of Title IX seems to conflict with the decision of another federal district judge who ruled on August 21 that the administration may not enforce its directive that Transgender students should use restrooms corresponding to their gender identities.

US District Judge Reed O'Connor said that the administration's order usurped local control of schools and threatened student safety and privacy. O'Connor was ruling on a suit brought by Texas and 12 other states, seeking to preserve their ability to discriminate against Trans students in public schools.

The Obama's administration's directives protecting Trans students, and the court orders resulting from them, were based on its interpretation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Administration lawyers said that the ban on discrimination on account of sex found in that legislation also protects gender identity.

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