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Groups Move Ahead to Lift Restrictions on Local LBGTQ Protections

The passage of House Bill 2 and subsequent HB 142 prompted many private businesses to put up gender-neutral restroom signs in North Carolina. (Ted Eytan/Flickr)
The passage of House Bill 2 and subsequent HB 142 prompted many private businesses to put up gender-neutral restroom signs in North Carolina. (Ted Eytan/Flickr)
October 3, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. – Civil-rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, are setting their sights on the ban on local protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning individuals that was written into North Carolina's controversial House Bill 142.

A federal court ruled late Monday that the law, intended to replace the "bathroom bill," does not bar transgender people from using public facilities.

Chris Brook, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina, said the decision clears the way for the next step in regaining local protections for transgender people.

"HB 142 took away the ability of cities and counties to offer anti-discrimination protections for anyone," he said, "whether it be on veteran status, whether it be against age discrimination or the ability of cities and counties to offer protections for the LGBT community."

Plaintiffs in the case argued that HB 142's "vagueness" effectively barred transgender people from using restrooms in government buildings.

Supporters of HB 142 have said it was a "measured compromise" when HB 2 was taken off the books after public outcry and protest from private industry. HB 2 originally had mandated that transgender people only use the public restroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate.

Brook said the federal court's decision gives them a degree of confidence when using public facilities.

"It helps to lift some of the cloud of uncertainty that surrounds how they go about their day-to-day life," he said. "Those of us who are not transgender go to the restroom without ever having to think about it, or ever fearing that they could be excluded from the appropriate restroom."

The ruling was applauded by such national groups as the Human Rights Campaign, in addition to the plaintiffs. There is no word yet about whether the state plans to appeal.

Details of the court ruling are online at acluofnorthcarolina.org, and the text of HB 142 is at ncleg.net.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC