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Following court victory, ACLU reaffirms warning that House Bill 2 could threaten billions in federal education dollars

HB2As we reported earlier today on this blog, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a major ruling today in favor of Gavin Grimm, a transgender teenager from Virginia who challenged his school system’s policy banning transgender students from using the bathroom that correlates with their gender identity.

As we noted at Policy Watch, this case could have major implications for House Bill 2, as it might eventually settle the question of whether the legislation imperils the state’s share of federal Title IX funding, more than $4 billion, for public schools. 

Today’s ruling overturns a previous district court decision made against Grimm last year. That district court decision was a key component of Gov. Pat McCrory’s defense of the bill. Read Policy Watch’s exclusive interview with Grimm’s lawyer, Joshua Block, here. 

It’s likely that the appeals court decision will be challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but, in the meantime, the ACLU of N.C., which filed a legal challenge to House Bill 2 in North Carolina, and Lambda Legal have responded by reaffirming their statement that the controversial bill clashes with federal directives from President Obama’s administration.

From the ACLU and Lambda Legal’s statement:

The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit marks the first time that a federal appeals court has determined that Title IX protects the rights of transgender students to use sex segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity, and therefore could have major implications for North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which forces transgender individuals to use the wrong restroom in schools and other government buildings. North Carolina is in the Fourth Circuit.

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal released the following statement:

“Today’s ruling makes plain that North Carolina’s House Bill 2 violates Title IX by discriminating against transgender students and forcing them to use the wrong restroom at school. This mean-spirited law not only encourages discrimination and endangers transgender students – it puts at risk billions of dollars in federal funds that North Carolina receives for secondary and post-secondary schools. House Bill 2 exposes North Carolinians to discrimination and harm, is wreaking havoc on the state’s economy and reputation, and now more than ever, places the state’s federal education funding in jeopardy. We again call on Governor McCrory and the General Assembly to repeal House Bill 2 and replace it with full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.”

Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina recently filed a lawsuit challenging House Bill 2. The lawsuit argues that through HB 2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. The complaint argues that HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and invading the privacy of transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.

We’ll continue to follow this important case as it develops.

 

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