On March 23, North Carolina’s governor Pat McCrory passed House Bill 2 banning people from using public restrooms not corresponding to their biological sex. For now, the suit regarding the constitutionality of the law is being pushed back for several months.
After its passing, civil liberty groups and liberal Democrats directly opposed the law. The state House voted on the bill 82-26 and the state Senate 32-0; Democrats refused to partake in a vote. They argued that the passing of HB2 is undemocratic.
The controversy behind the bathroom policy debate has led to discrimination in schools. One incident in South Carolina involved a transgender boy walking into the boy’s bathroom. The student was suspended for inappropriate use of the “wrong” bathroom that did not reflect his biological sex.
Caitlyn Jenner, an ex-Olympian and leader in the transgender community, also protested the law and gained support and attention through her influence.
According to a federal court entry, Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake of the United States District court for the Middle District of North Carolina requested to postpone the hearing on the law. This was so the Supreme Court could choose to hear a Virginia case on transgender bathroom policies in schools that is very similar to South Carolina’s.
According to American Civil Liberties Union attorney James Esseks, the hearing will be pushed back to May of next year instead of the originally scheduled November date. North Carolina’s legislative leaders are defending the law, while the ACLU and the United States Justice Department are opposing it. Republican supporters of the bill argue that it is important for the state to protect the safety of women who may be in danger of men entering female restrooms. Transgender advocates argue that their bathroom rights are protected by existing laws, and that the bill is discriminatory.
Judge Thomas D. Schroeder of the Federal District court passed a preliminary injunction, a statement entered to the court before a final hearing, on the side of the three transgender plaintiffs. He stated that they have a strong chance of winning their case if they can prove that HB2 violates Title IX, a federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in schools. Judge Schroeder did advise, however, that the plaintiff not base their argument on violation of constitutional equal protection rights, for that might weaken their case.
Arguments vary about the passing of HB2, but all eyes are on the Supreme Court which may or may not take the Virginia case. That ruling will be a crucial decision for public bathroom policies across the United States.
Article Sources: (CNN, NBC, New York Times, CBS, ABC)