Last week, the state of North Carolina and the Department of Justice filed dual lawsuits against each other regarding the implementation of the state’s new laws requiring citizens to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate.
“We are filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state of North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, “We are seeking a court order declaring House Bill 2’s restroom restriction impermissibly discriminatory, as well as a statewide bar on its enforcement.”
Lynch also stated that she believed North Carolina was simply trying to find new ways to oppress the LGBT community.
“This is not the first time that we have seen discriminatory responses to historic moments of progress for our nation,” Lynch said. “We saw it in the Jim Crow laws that followed the Emancipation Proclamation. We saw it in fierce and widespread resistance to Brown v. Board of Education. And we saw it in the proliferation of state bans on same-sex unions intended to stifle any hope that gay and lesbian Americans might one day be afforded the right to marry.”
Because the Department of Justice operates on a federal level, they have to ability to withhold more than $1 billion dollars of federal funding for North Carolina’s public schools and other programs. University of North Carolina President Margaret Spellings wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice insisting that the school was not violating federal civil rights laws despite implementing House Bill 2 (North Carolina’s bill).
Despite the accusations, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory defended his law, saying that it was in no way discriminatory.
“North Carolina does not treat transgender employees differently from non-transgender employees,” the lawsuit states.
“All state employees are required to use the bathroom and changing facilities assigned to persons of their same biological sex, regardless of gender identity, or transgender status,” McCrory said.
Despite his feelings on the bill, others see the bill in a different light, “I think it’s stupid and impractical, not to mention bigoted. it’s generally transphobic, but it also is impossible to enforce without invading people’s privacy in restrooms. it also perpetuates the idea that transgender people can be identified by sight which isn’t true,’ junior Leo Bukovsan said.
With dual lawsuits coming from the state and the federal government, both with be handled in a federal court. In the meantime, it remain to be seen whether the DOJ will act on its threat to withhold federal funding for the state.
While this law is being implemented across the country, it still affects the SPA community, “it certainly has ruled out the state for my college search,” Bukovsan said.