North Carolina bathroom policy focus of new court case

A year after the state of North Carolina removed the most infamous provisions of its transphobic bathroom bill, transgender advocates are saying the state has not undone the discriminatory reach of the earlier act.

Now, trans advocates are involved in a lawsuit, and the legal implications of the court battle have observers considering what comes next.

According to USA Today, “A federal judge on Monday will hear arguments from transgender advocates who claim in a lawsuit that the replacement law still discriminates against the LGBT community.” The Republican leadership in the North Carolina legislature are fighting to have the lawsuit dismissed.

The state passed its original anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2016. The statute, called House Bill 2, was swiftly condemned. The bill mandated that trans people be required to use bathrooms corresponding to the sex assigned at their birth.

Public reaction was immediate and overwhelming. In the face of massive popular opposition and reprisal from the business community, the state government of North Carolina moved to replace the bathroom bill.

They did so in 2017, with an updated statute.

The new law removed the mandate, but contained a sweeping measure in its new language. Under the revisions of the 2017 law, the power to decide legal bathroom usage was vested in the state government.

That meant, for instance, that municipalities or individual communities could not adopt trans-friendly policies.

The final decision regarding bathroom bills was placed at the state level, with the same lawmakers who had instituted transphobic rules in the first place.

The new 2017 law explicitly limits local authorities from passing or adopting nondiscrimination ordinances. Critics of the 2017 law say that its ambiguity is purposeful.

The present lawsuit is filed on behalf of a trans elementary school student who is currently barred from using the girls’ bathrooms at her school. According to her parents, the trans girl has self-directed her own gender choice, but was told by a principal that she could not legally use that restroom.

According to USA Today, “New Hanover County Schools issued a statement declining to comment on the case, but said the district works individually with students to accommodate their needs.”