A federal court has ruled that North Carolina’s law that replaced HB2, called HB142, does not bar transgender people from using public restrooms and other facilities matching their gender identity.
In addition to stipulating that regulations of restrooms and locker rooms in government buildings, including public schools, must go through the state government, currently controlled by the GOP, the legislation, signed into law last year, also prohibits cities and municipalities from passing LGBTQ non-discrimination protections until December 2020.
The ruling, handed down Sunday night by U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, also allows a challenge to that ban on local non-discrimination ordinances to go forward.
“I am relieved to finally have the court unequivocally say that there is no law in North Carolina that can be used to bar transgender people from using restrooms that match who we are,” said Joaquin Carcaño, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.
“For the past two and a half years, I have been unable to use restrooms in my home state without worrying that I will be subject to discrimination, harassment, or even arrest. Our community has faced so much discrimination because of HB2 and HB142, and this decision will give us more support to defend the rights and basic humanity of our community members across the state.”
“By making clear that transgender people in North Carolina cannot be barred from using public facilities that match their gender identity, this decision lessens some of the harm that has been caused by these laws’ disgraceful and indefensible attacks on LGBT North Carolinians,” said ACLU of North Carolina Legal Director Chris Brook. The ACLU and Lambda Legal are representing plaintiffs in the suit.
“The court’s decision does not account for the very real injuries LGBT people have faced under both HB2 and HB142, but we will continue fighting for the rights of all LGBT people in North Carolina as this case proceeds. The bottom line is that LGBT North Carolinians deserve to feel secure in knowing that when they go about their daily lives and interact with businesses open to the public, any discrimination they encounter is unacceptable.”
“In light of this ruling, there should no longer be any excuse for discrimination in government facilities against transgender students and employees, who are simply trying to get through daily life like everyone else,” said Tara Borelli, Lambda Legal Counsel. “HB142 and HB2 no longer provide a fig leaf for denying transgender people equal dignity and access to public facilities on the same terms that all other North Carolinians can take for granted.”
“Today’s ruling made clear that the discriminatory and poorly written HB142 does not prevent transgender North Carolinians from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Despite this, the law—and the state—remain deeply problematic for LGBTQ equality,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.
“It remains impossible for city and town governments to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, including in public accommodations. What is needed and necessary for LGBTQ people is the full repeal of HB142 and the enactment of statewide protections.”