North Carolina last week passed sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation that includes a ban on transgender people accessing public bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificate. It is the first state to pass an explicit anti-trans “bathroom bill,” and backlash has already begun.
On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union, nonprofit organization Equality North Carolina, and three state university employees — two of whom are transgender — filed a lawsuit against the new legislation. The lawsuit alleges violation of the 14th Amendment, which ensures constitutional equal rights protections for all people, stating that it “imposes a different and more burdensome political process on LGBT people than on non-LGBT people who have state protection against identity-based discrimination.”
The plaintiffs have also called upon Title IX, which protects against gender discrimination by institutions that receive federal funding. The U.S. departments of justice and education have ensured that Title IX also protects transgender people. Some say if public colleges and universities in North Carolina adhere to the new law, they would risk losing federal funding.
While public colleges and universities in North Carolina contend with what this means for their campuses, private colleges in the state — despite being exempt from the law — have voiced their concern and reaffirmed their commitment to inclusive campuses.
Wake Forest University and the president of Davidson College each took to Twitter to declare their institutions’ commitment to nondiscrimination. Guilford College President Jane Fernandes also released a statement.
“As a Quaker college that has historically worked to oppose discrimination and is guided by … core values, we deeply lament the passage of this harmful bill and remain fully committed to affirming the lives and experiences of LGBTQ community members, and providing a welcoming and inclusive educational environment for all,” Fernandes wrote.
Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the bill last Wednesday, cited the “bathroom myth” to justify his decision to ratify the legislation, saying that allowing transgender people to use bathrooms that do not match their assigned sex will lead to men entering women’s restrooms to sexually assault women and girls.
This scenario, however, has not played out in states that have passed laws protecting transgender people. As media watchdog group Media Matters has shown, there is no evidence that protections for LGBTQ people lead to increased incidents of sexual assault or harassment.