The growing mass of opposition to North Carolina’s controversial bathroom law, House Bill 2 (HB 2), now includes the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). According to the federal agency, the state is denying transgender employees of public agencies “full enjoyment” of Title VII rights. In addition, the law puts state universities in danger of violating Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, said the DOJ in a May 4 letter to Gov. Pat McCrory.
“Access to sex-segregated restrooms and other workplace facilities consistent with gender identity is a term, condition or privilege of employment,” the letter said.
Under current law, non-transgender individuals (often called cisgender) have access to bathrooms and other sex-segregated facilities according to their gender identity. The DOJ said transgender people should have equal access according to gender identity as well.
The letter warns the state to halt implementation of the bathroom law by May 9 or risk legal action, including the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal school funds.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest denounced the federal warning as agenda-driven and exploitative.
“To use our children and their educational futures as pawns to advance an agenda that will ultimately open those same children up to exploitation at the hands of sexual predators is by far,” he said, “the sickest example of the depths the Obama Administration will stoop to ‘fundamentally transform our nation.’”
McCrory said the letter signals a broader issue.
“The Obama administration has not only staked out its position for North Carolina, but for all states, universities and most employers in the U.S.,” he said. “The right and expectation of privacy in one of the most private areas of our personal lives is now in jeopardy.”
HB 2 passed through the N.C. General Assembly in a special called session to preempt an ordinance put forward by the Charlotte City Council which would have allowed transgender individuals access to the bathrooms and changing facilities of their choice. Bill supporters said the local ordinance would open the door for sexual predators to exploit the policy, potentially endangering women and children.
Many large corporations, sports organizations and celebrities have opposed the bathroom law by restricting business activity in N.C. The United Kingdom even issued a travel advisory for LGBT travelers to the state.
McCrory said his office is determining their next steps, but he will likely continue to support the bill as it stands. Pro-HB 2 lawmakers have been unwilling to amend the bathroom provisions of the bill thus far.
“While the Obama Administration may try to impose its agenda by attempting to redefine what ‘sex’ means under Title VII and Title IX, that is something only Congress can alter,” said Tami Fitzgerald, director of the N.C. Values Coalition. “We commend Gov. McCrory and our elected representatives for their commitment to North Carolinians’ right to privacy.”