University of North Carolina Refuses to Follow State Bathroom Law

News: Education
by Rodney Pelletier  •  •  June 8, 2016   

University president wants to wait for clarification of federal law

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RALEIGH, N.C. ( - The University of North Carolina (UNC) is refusing to follow state law on the transgender use of bathroom facilities.

Both the university and North Carolina governor Pat McCrory are being sued in federal court by students and employees of UNC. The lawsuit is the result of House Bill 2 (HB2) signed by McCrory on March 25, which mandates people to use bathrooms corresponding to their biological sex. Media and LGBT activists are bashing the law, saying it discriminates against LGBT people.

University president Margaret Spellings wrote, "I have no intent to exercise my authority to promulgate any guidelines or regulations that require transgender students to use the restrooms consistent with their biological sex."

University officials claim they are between a rock and a hard place, with state law mandating one thing and federal law apparently mandating the opposite.

In May the Obama administration, through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Education (ED), threatened to pull federal funding from North Carolina's schools, claiming HB2 violates Title IX, which forbids discrimination based on sex in educational institutions, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It charges the State with "engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees and both you, in your official capacity, and the State are engaging in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of Title VII rights by transgender employees of public agencies."

In response to the threat, North Carolina and 12 other states are suing the Obama administration and demanding the answer to two questions:

  1. Clarify specifically all actions that the ED and DOJ, jointly or separately, will take against or regarding a teacher, school administrator, educator, school contractor, or person volunteering at a school who does not comply with this guidance;

  2. Detail whether the ED and DOJ will recognize or accommodate rights of conscience and privacy in an individual's or institution's non-compliance with this guidance ... .

The declaration is part of a motion filed in federal court requesting that a civil lawsuit against the university be halted until the law is defined. A case is currently being heard where a so-called transgender student is suing his school district for not allowing him to use the girls bathroom. The district lost the decision to a three-judge panel and is now appealing in federal court.

North Carolina University administrators were at a loss as to how to implement the DOJ "guidance" letter. A letter to the DOJ on May 9 asked for patience in the matter, saying, "At this time, the University pledges its good faith commitment to assure the proper application of non-discrimination law in the university setting, where there remain many difficult and unanswered questions."

It's not yet known if the court will place the suit on hold.


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