UNC president now says she will not enforce bathroom law

Lawsuits surround HB2

The University of North Carolina (UNC) will not enforce the state's "bathroom law" so long as lawsuits surrounding the law are pending, the school's president wrote in an affidavit. 

Margaret Spellings submitted the statement to a court hearing a lawsuit against UNC, also concerning the bathroom law. Spelling argues any litigation against the school should be held off until the lawsuits about the law itself are decided. 

Background

North Carolina's new Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (HB2) requires public colleges and facilities to segregate bathrooms by biological birth gender, meaning transgender people may not use restrooms that reflect their identities unless they have taken legal steps to change their birth certificates.

The law also updates which types of discrimination people are protected against statewide: religion, race, color, age, handicap, national origin, and biological sex as listed on a birth certificate. And it prevents local governments from passing their own antidiscrimination laws—which could expand that definition.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice directed Spellings and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) to denounce the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act or risk losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.

Expert insight: How to create gender-inclusive restrooms on campus

The Obama administration says the law violates Title IX, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Violence Against Women Act.

In April, Spellings sent a memo to UNC chancellors with notes on how to comply with the law, sparking backlash from LGBT advocates and students. According to Spellings, her memorandum was "misinterpreted as an endorsement of the law."

But in the recent affidavit, Spellings says she will not enforce the state law. "Pending a final judgment in this case, I have no intent to exercise my authority to promulgate any guidelines or regulations that require that transgender students use the restrooms consistent with their biological sex," she wrote (Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 5/31).


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