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Lawsuit: N.C. Restrictions on Transgender Restroom Access Violate Federal Law

Cross-posted from the Rules for Engagement blog

By Evie Blad

A group of advocacy organizations filed a federal lawsuit Monday in an attempt to stop a new North Carolina law that includes restrictions on which restrooms transgender students can use in public schools.

That law—introduced, passed, and signed into law in a whirlwind one-day special session last week—prohibits local LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances, like one set to go into effect in Charlotte, and requires public agencies and public schools to set policies limiting access to multi-stall restrooms. Under those policies, patrons and students will be required to use the restroom that corresponds with the biological sex indicated on their birth certificates, even if that sex differs from their gender identity.

The suit, by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, and Equality North Carolina, claims that the law violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Title IX, putting the state's schools at risk of losing the more than $4.5 billion in federal education funding that North Carolina is expected to receive in 2016.

"Forcing a transgender person to use single-sex spaces that do not match the person's gender identity is inconsistent with medical protocols and can cause anxiety and distress to the transgender person and result in harassment of and violence against them," the suit says.

After the enactment of the new law, "some school officials that had been respecting their students' gender identity without any problem called parents to say that their children would be forced out of the single-sex facilities that match their gender identity," the suit says.

As I've written previously, the U.S. Department of Education has held that Title IX's protections against sex discrimination also apply to sexual orientation and gender identity, a claim that some states have contested.

Related reading:

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