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University of NC Blocked from Enforcing 'Bathroom Bill' in Partial Win for LGBTQ Rights

The University of North Carolina may not enforce controversial law banning transgender people from bathrooms that match their gender identity while lawsuit challenging the legislation proceeds, U.S. judge rules

A Moral Monday rally against House Bill 2.

Moral Monday demonstrators rally against North Carolina's anti-transgender House Bill 2 in May. (Photo: Chuck Liddy/ News & Observer)

A U.S. judge on Friday ordered the University of North Carolina to allow transgender students and staff to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, blocking enforcement of the state's controversial "bathroom bill" known as House Bill 2, while a lawsuit challenging the anti-LGBTQ legislation proceeds.

"Today, the tightness that I have felt in my chest every day since H.B. 2 passed has eased. But the fight is not over: we won't rest until this discriminatory law is defeated."
—Joaquín Carcaño, lead plaintiff

"In granting the preliminary injunction, the court found that the challengers are likely to succeed in their argument that the law violates Title IX," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one of the groups that brought the motion seeking preliminary injunctive relief, wrote Friday.

Indeed, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder wrote (pdf) in his decision that

[...] the court concludes that the individual transgender Plaintiffs have made a clear showing that (1) they are likely to succeed on their claim the Part I violates Title IX, as interpreted by the United States Department of Education ("DOE") under the standard articulated by the Fourth Circuit; (2) they will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities weighs in favor of an injunction; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest. 

"Today is a great day for me and hopefully this is the start to chipping away at the injustice of H.B. 2 that is harming thousands of other transgender people who call North Carolina home,"  said Joaquín Carcaño, lead plaintiff in the case, according to the ACLU.

"Today, the tightness that I have felt in my chest every day since H.B. 2 passed has eased,"  Carcaño continued. "But the fight is not over: we won't rest until this discriminatory law is defeated."

Our direction

The victory is a partial one, however, as it only applies to the North Carolina university system. "Most transgender people in North Carolina," Reuters notes, "will still be bound by the law adopted in March that requires them to use bathrooms in government buildings and public schools that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate."

LGBTQ rights activists and plaintiffs celebrated the decision nevertheless, as they took it to be a strong indication that their challenge to House Bill 2 will ultimately be successful.

"We're thrilled that the court ruled on the right side for our clients today and that our clients are one step closer to being free from the discrimination that this harmful law imposes on them simply because they are transgender," said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina, in a statement

"We're confident justice will prevail in the larger case after the judge hears all the evidence at trial this fall so that all gay and transgender North Carolinians will be free from the harm of H.B. 2," Brook said.

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