A federal court ruled Sunday night (30 September) that a North Carolina law does not prohibit transgender people from using public facilities corresponding to their gender identity.
The law in question is House Bill 142. It replaced the original and controversial House Bill 2, which initially sparked the nationwide bathroom debate.
North Carolina’s legislature enacted HB 142 last year, with Governor Roy Cooper signing it into law on 30 March 2017.
It states that all state agencies and departments, including the University of North Carolina and the state’s community college system, ‘are preempted from regulation’ of public accommodations.
Lambda Legal and the ACLU expanded their case Carcaño v. Cooper in 2017 to include plaintiffs challenging HB 142 and its vagueness.
In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder wrote: ‘Nothing in the language of Section 2 [of H.B. 142] can be construed to prevent transgender individuals from using the restrooms that align with their gender identity.’
HB 142 also has a ban on allowing LGBTI nondiscrimination policies to go forward. Schroder further said in his opinion he would allow a challenge to this section.
A first win
‘I am relieved to finally have the court unequivocally say that there is no law in North Carolina that can be used to bar transgender people from using restrooms that match who we are,’ said Joaquin Carcaño, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.
ACLU of North Carolina Legal Director Chris Brook added: ‘The court’s decision does not account for the very real injuries LGBT people have faced under both H.B. 2 and H.B. 142, but we will continue fighting for the rights of all LGBT people in North Carolina as this case proceeds.’
The Human Rights Campaign also weighed in on the ruling, and the overall bill.
HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said the opinion on the ‘poorly written HB 142’ is good, but that the bill still remains ‘deeply problematic’.
‘What is needed and necessary for LGBTQ people is the full repeal of HB 142 and the enactment of statewide protections,’ she said.