Despite DOJ warnings, North Carolina stays loyal to anti-transgender bathroom bill
As much as you’re sick of hearing about it, HB 2, the bill that stripped North Carolina’s LGBTQ community of protections and created a whole other set of issues for the state’s transgender population, isn’t going away any time soon; even after the Feds stepped in.
A letter sent out yesterday from the federal Department of Justice aimed to curb the state’s enthusiasm for discrimination by threatening to cut funding in the hundreds of millions to state schools.
“Both you and the State of North Carolina are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” reads the opening remarks of the letter addressed to NC Governor Pat McCrory who signed the bill in late March and has been criticized for it ever since. “Specifically, the State is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees and both you, in your official capacity, and the State are engaging in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of Title VII rights by transgender employees of public agencies”
The letter details how the bathroom bill discriminates based on sex, and how federal courts have tied transgender bathroom privileges to sex discrimination through numerous court cases.
“Access to sex-segregated restrooms and other workplace facilities consistent with gender identity is a term, condition, or privilege of employment,” the letter continues. “Denying such access to transgender individuals, whose gender identity is different from their gender assigned at birth, while affording it to similarly situated non-transgender employees violates Title VII.”
This warning seems to have fallen on deaf ears in the Tar Heel state. Gov. McCrory responded to the letter with a statement of his own saying, as he has throughout the fight, the right to privacy trumps individual rights on this issue.
“A claim by the Obama administration charges that one part of House Bill 2, which requires state employees in public government buildings and students in our universities to use a restroom, locker room and shower facility that match their biological sex, is now in violation of federal law,” McCrory said, turing the rights of some of NC’s most vulnerable populations into a political hot potato to be tossed between pundits instead of addressed and solved.
Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro, who is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit currently filed against the state over the bill, said he was not surprised by the content of the DOJ letter, and the state has already felt impacts from McCroy’s inability to see the forest from the trees.
“We’ve already lost $500 million in economic impact and now we are violating federal civil rights law and risking Title IX funding,” Sgro said in a statement to the Human Rights Campaign. “This is a travesty and embarrassment for North Carolina. There is a repeal bill filed in the House, and it should be considered immediately.”
The DOJ gave the state till May 9th to remedy the situation and inform state and university employees that they are allowed to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity. McCrory’s statement ends with a comment about “determining the next steps,” but there’s little hope HB2 wont get resolved in the courts. If its from the ACLU lawsuit, or from the DOJ’s is yet to be seen.
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