A federal judge approved a legal settlement in the issue of the North Carolina bathroom bill, handing transgender people a partial victory.
Transgender plaintiffs, challenging the state’s various bathroom bills, settled an agreement with Gov. Roy Cooper (D). Judge Thomas Schroeder approved the settlement on Tuesday (23 July).
In the agreement, both parties agree nothing in current state law can be interpreted to ‘prevent transgender people from lawfully using public facilities in accordance with their gender identity’.
This agreement, however, only applies to buildings in the executive branch’s control.
Further, future executive branch employees, including governors and more, also cannot interpret the law to ‘bar, prohibit, block, deter, or impede any transgender individuals from using public facilities … in accordance with the transgender individual’s gender identity’.
How did the bathroom bill get here?
North Carolina’s controversy and struggle with the bathroom bill first began in 2016. House Bill (HB) 2, also known as the bathroom bill, was first introduced then, and subsequently signed into law by then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R).
HB 2 required people to use public facilities matching their birth certificate, regardless of their gender identity.
Later, HB 142 repealed and replaced HB 2. This new bill prohibited the requirement for people to use public facilities based on their birth certificates. However, it also established a new law halting any new local antidiscrimination ordinances until December 2020.
This aspect of the law is still in effect under the settlement agreement.
A good step… and the fight isn’t over
Many LGBTI organizations and activists are celebrating the agreement, while warning the fight isn’t over.
‘This settlement is cause for celebration and a step in the right direction,’ said Equality NC Executive Director Kendra R. Johnson.
Johnson added the settlement ‘only goes so far to protect the lives and safety of trans people in this state’.
‘We must continue to fight for the full repeal of HB 142 and comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ folks across our state and nation. Otherwise, LGBTQ North Carolinians will never truly be safe,’ Johnson concluded.
Equality NC Policy Director Ames Simmons added on to Johnson’s statement, saying transgender and gender nonconforming people are ‘incrementally safer’ but doubled down on the push for HB 142’s full repeal.
‘North Carolina lacks statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people,’ explained Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.
‘We continue to call for the full and immediate repeal of every provision of HB 142 and we’ll keep fighting for a North Carolina in which people never face discrimination because of who they are or who they love.’