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North Carolina Controversy: Hidden State-Sponsored Discrimination?

 

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By: Peter Lay

On March 23rd, the state of North Carolina passed a law called House Bill 2. This act makes it illegal for transgender individuals to use bathrooms that do not correspond to the sex on their birth certificate, among other things. This law was in response to an ordinance passed by the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, which allows transgender individuals to use a bathroom that corresponds to their gender, rather than biological sex.

In addition to the “bathroom bill” portion, this law allowed for business owners in the state to deny employment and even fire existing employees based solely upon sexual orientation and whether or not the person is a transgender, which is the main point of controversy around this law.

In a similar manner to how the North Carolina state government stepped in to strong arm the city of Charlotte, the United States government shortly stepped in after reading the law in-depth. They filed a lawsuit against the state based on the grounds that it is state-sponsored discrimination and is in direct violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination in the workplace based on sex, race, color, national origin, or religion, according to the Huffington Post. In a letter to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory by the United States Department of Justice published in the New York Post, they stated:

“The State is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees and both you, in your official capacity, and the state are engaging in a pattern or practice of resistance of their rights”.

The letter also stated a violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which bars educational discrimination based on sex, as there were parts of the law that were to be implemented at the University of North Carolina. However the university itself refused to comply with state laws, and instead chose to comply with federal regulation, thus defying the North Carolina Justice Department. According to CNN, this could result in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding to the university if something does not change.

The state of North Carolina then proceeded to file a lawsuit against the national government, over the ultimatum from the Justice Department that the state either refuse to implement this law, or lose billions of dollars in government funding to the state. Governor McCrory has stated that he has allowed for private companies to make their own policies regarding bathrooms, and this lawsuit, according to CBS, is “to ensure that North Carolina continues to receive federal funding until the courts resolve this issue”.

Since then, the United States Department of Justice has issued statements to school districts across the United States stating that schools must comply with federal guidelines that allow students to use bathrooms that correspond with the gender with which they identify instead of the sex that is written on their birth certificate.

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