Federal Court Rules HB 2 Replacement Law Does Not Bar Transgender People

Court rules North Carolina’s HB 142 does not restrict trans people from using facilities matching their gender identity.

By Mila Madison

On Sunday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder of the Middle District of North Carolina ruled that HB 142, known as the compromise law that replaced North Carolina’s controversial HB2 bathroom law that prevented transgender people from using public restrooms, does not bar transgender people from using public restrooms or other facilities.

Judge Schroeder also partially dismissed an attempt by six LGBT North Carolinians, who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal, to replace the law altogether. The ruling still allows them to continue to challenge a controversial part of that law that bans cities and counties from passing transgender-friendly bathroom rules and other anti-discrimination measures.

In his written opinion, Judge Schroeder determined that HB 142 had partially returned North Carolina to the way it was before the HB 2 law was implemented by removing language that restricted facility access to transgender people. “Nothing in the language of Section 2 [of H.B. 142] can be construed to prevent transgender individuals from using the restrooms that align with their gender identity,” Judge Schroeder wrote.

“I am relieved to finally have the court unequivocally say that there is no law in North Carolina that can be used to bar transgender people from using restrooms that match who we are,” said Joaquin Carcaño, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. “For the past two and a half years, I have been unable to use restrooms in my home state without worrying that I will be subject to discrimination, harassment, or even arrest. Our community has faced so much discrimination because of H.B. 2 and H.B. 142, and this decision will give us more support to defend the rights and basic humanity of our community members across the state.”

Joaquin Carcaño, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.Photo: ACLU

HB 2 was originally passed in 2016 after the city of Charlotte expanded its nondiscrimination ordinance to include LGBT people and allow transgender people to use the public facilities that corresponded with their gender identity. The controversial law caused an economic downfall for the state of North Carolina after the state was boycotted by businesses, professional sport leagues, concert tours, and other entities including a travel ban put in place by other states. In later that year Governor Pat McCrory (R), who signed the bill into law, lost the governorship to current governor Roy Cooper (D), despite President Donald Trump winning the state by a wide margin.

Following McCrory’s ouster, Republican Legislators and Governor Cooper attempted to repeal parts of HB 2 in attempt to bring back the entities that had boycotted the state. The result was HB 142, which technically repealed HB 2, but also prevented municipalities from passing any new laws protecting transgender people before the year 2020.

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