Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

North Carolinian Gets Court Win for Transgender Restroom-Access

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

North Carolinian Gets Court Win for Transgender Restroom-Access

Article excerpt

RALEIGH, N.C. - A judge ruled Friday that two students and an employee must be allowed to use restrooms matching their gender identity at University of North Carolina campuses, and he said they have a strong chance of proving the state's bathroom-access measure violates federal law. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder temporarily blocked the University of North Carolina from making the three plaintiffs follow the restroom provision of the so-called HB 2 law as the larger case makes its way to trial in November. His final decision on the law won't come until after that trial.

Passed in March, HB 2 requires transgender people to use the restrooms in schools and many public buildings that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates, rather than their gender identity. It also excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from statewide antidiscrimination protections.

The state's Republican leaders argue the law is needed to protect privacy and safety by keeping men out of women's restrooms. Transgender residents challenging the law argue that restroom safety is protected by existing laws, while the North Carolina measure is harmful and discriminatory.

In his ruling Friday, Schroeder wrote that the three plaintiffs in the lawsuit "are likely to succeed in their arguments that HB 2 violates Title IX, a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender in educational institutions.

However, he said they haven't shown they are likely to succeed on a claim that the law violates their constitutional equal protection rights, and he reserved judgment on another constitutional claim related to due process.

Rebuffing arguments by the law's defenders, Schroeder also noted that existing laws already protect people's privacy in restrooms.

"North Carolina's peeping and indecent exposure statutes continue to protect the privacy of citizens regardless of the bathroom provision, Schroeder wrote, "and there is no indication that a sexual predator could successfully claim transgender status as a defense against prosecution under these statutes. …

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