Federal Judge Blocks University of North Carolina from Enforcing “Bathroom Law”

Photo credit: Intel Free Press via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo credit: Intel Free Press via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

On Friday, a federal judge blocked the University of North Carolina from enforcing the state’s HB 2 bill, which restricts bathroom access based on biological sex.

“The University of North Carolina, its officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and all other persons acting in concert or participation with them are hereby enjoined from enforcing (the law) against the individual transgender plaintiffs until further order of the court,” Judge Thomas D. Schroeder wrote in his decision to block the law’s application.

This decision only applies to the three plaintiffs of the lawsuit — two students and a faculty member. However, LGBT activists are celebrating this decision, and they hope that this is a sign the law may ultimately be struck down.

The state’s law and federal guidance from the Departments of Education and Justice have come into conflict. According to Obama appointees in the federal government, nondiscrimination standards in Title IX require government-run schools, like UNC, to create “safe spaces” for transgender students. In part, that means allowing students to choose which bathroom they would prefer to use.

“The guidance explains that when students or their parents, as appropriate, notify a school that a student is transgender, the school must treat the student consistent with the student’s gender identity,” the federal government said in a press release explaining this guidance. “A school may not require transgender students to have a medical diagnosis, undergo any medical treatment, or produce a birth certificate or other identification document before treating them consistent with their gender identity.”

According to reports, the University of North Carolina is reviewing the order but will “fully comply with its directive.”

Far from abandon the law because of the political pressure, North Carolina’s governor, Pat McCrory, is standing up in defense of this law — even making a key issue in his reelection campaign.

In May, when the Justice Department first trained its guns on the bathroom bill, McCrory defended the bill he signed into law, and accused the federal government of over-stepping its proper authority.

“There’s an expectation of privacy for the other girls or other boys in their junior high locker rooms or shower facilities, that the only other people coming into there are people of the same gender, or built as the same gender,” he said. “We need to work through these problems and not throw hand grenades at this issue because it’s a new, sensitive issue on all sides.”

Michael Lucchese works for the American Principles Project.