Update on Transgender Bathroom Laws

Update on Transgender Bathroom Laws

Progress has been made in overturning North Carolina’s House Bill 2 or commonly known as the transgender “bathroom law”. House Bill 2 states that people must use the bathroom that coincides with the gender listed on their birth certificate. CNN reported on February 11 that a judge ruled that 2 students and 1 faculty member at the University of North Carolina be allowed to used the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. Until these three plaintiffs go to trial it is a temporary and limited block of this law but is being considered as the first step in the law being repealed.

However while that is good news out of North Carolina, on a federal level the news is not celebratory. The Obama Administration had the the Justice Department and Education Department advised public schools that they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, as opposed to their birth gender, or face the loss of federal funds. Thirteen states are suing the federal government over this directive. The states are: Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arizona, Maine, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia, Mississippi and Kentucky.

A hearing was set for February 14 but the Justice Department and the states filed a joint notice saying both sides moved to cancel the hearing. “The parties are currently considering how to best proceed in this appeal,” the motion said. Prior to this hearing these states had won a national injunction, which still stands, preventing that guidance about bathrooms from being disseminated to students. Besides the bathroom access issue, the guidance also covered making sure transgender students’ privacy is protected.

Activists of the LGBT community said the Justice Department move to cancel the hearing is not a good sign and believes it signals a shift in policy. “It is sending a signal they don’t intend to enforce the guidance in any state,” Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, told CNN. “They are fine with their hands being tied.”

This week, sadly, the cancellation of the hearings made sense as the Trump Administration withdrew all protections for transgender students. At the CPAC conference Betsy DeVos responded by saying, “This issue was a very huge example of the Obama administration’s overreach, a one-size-fits-all, top-down approach. These matters should be handled at a “personal and local level.”

Warbelow said she was “extraordinarily disappointed. The DOJ should be a champion for all students’ civil rights and by signaling a willingness to be bound by the injunction nationwide they are certainly signaling they aren’t intending to pursue civil rights for transgender people.”

Warbelow noted transgender students are not prohibited from filing a lawsuit if they experience discrimination.

The Justice Department declined comment on the filing.


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Recurring Theme: Cancelled in North Carolina

It’s become a recurring theme. Concerts – cancelled, sporting events – cancelled, and now the latest to refuse to come to the North Carolina – The University of Vermont Women’s Basketball Team. The team just announced they are cancelling their December 28 away game versus the University of North Carolina due to the HB2 law in North Carolina. Players, coaches and school officials come to this decision together and feel good about their decision.

Vermont’s Athletic Director Jeff Schulman told ESPN.com:

“The decision to cancel our December 28 women’s basketball game at North Carolina was made as a result of concerns over the HB2 law, which prevents transgender people from using government-run bathrooms based on their gender identity.

We strive very hard to create an inclusive climate for our students and staff in which they all can feel safe, respected and valued. It would be hard to fulfill these obligations while competing in a state with this law, which is contrary to our values as an athletic department and university.”

The Vermont / UNC game is not the first event or sporting event to be cancelled because of the law. Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in North Carolina. The NBA moved the 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans and the University of Albany cancelled a men’s basketball game against Duke scheduled in November. So, whose next?

Vermont Cancels Women's Basketball Game vs. UNC over State's Transgender Law

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NOLA Will Host NBA All Star Game

You may remember the announcement in July that the NBA decided to move the 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina because of the passing of North Carolina House Bill 2 (Read the HL blog here). The bill, now law, eliminates anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community and prohibits transgender individuals from using bathrooms in public buildings that do not match their birth gender.

The decision to move the All Star Game started with Rick Welts, President of the Golden State Warriors, who is a member of the LGBT community.  At the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting in early July, he told league owners that he would not feel comfortable attending the All Star Game in Charlotte because of the passage of House Bill 2.  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also announced that week that the North Carolina law was “in conflict with our core values…” and because of that, the league questioned the location of the All Star game.

On July 21, it was officially announced that the NBA was moving the All Star Game. Other NBA cities now had the chance to submit bids to host the game.  What’s normally an eight month process, New Orleans competed in twenty-nine days. On August 19, Commissioner Silver advised New Orleans that their bid was accepted and called the city “a world class destination for sports and entertainment.”

The move to New Orleans also stands out for another reason.  While North Carolina removed anti-discrimination protections with House Bill 2, Louisiana added protections for the LGBTQ community.  In April, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed an executive order into law that prohibits discrimination against public employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Louisiana is the only state in the south which has NBA teams (Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina) to have this protection.

Hayden’s List would like to thank New Orleans for being so welcoming to the LGBTQ community. Do you agree that NOLA is LGBT friendly? Check out New Orleans reviews here or submit one and let us know in the comments.

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