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LGBT Rights

The ACLU's LGBT Project works for an America free of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This means an America where LGBT people can live openly, where identities, relationships and families are respected, and where there is fair treatment on the job, in schools, housing, public places, health care, and government programs. 

RALEIGH – The U.S. Department of Justice today notified North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory that HB 2, the sweeping anti-LGBT law that prevents transgender students, employees, and visitors from using restrooms that correspond to their gender identity, has placed the state in violation of Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act.

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal – which are challenging HB 2 in federal court on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians – released the following statement:

“It is now clearer than ever that this discriminatory law violates civil rights protections and jeopardizes billions of dollars in federal funds for North Carolina. Governor McCrory and the legislators who forced through HB 2 in a single day were warned about these dire consequences, but they ignored the law and the North Carolinians it would harm and passed the bill anyway. The only way to reverse the ongoing damage HB 2 is causing to North Carolina’s people, economy, and reputation is a full repeal.”

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RALEIGH – More than 185,000 signatures demanding the repeal of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2 were delivered to the office of Gov. Pat McCrory today by a collection of civil rights, faith, business, and advocacy groups as the state legislature returns for the first time since it introduced and passed the law limiting legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in a one-day special session on March 23. Thousands of people are expected to rally for the discriminatory law’s repeal outside the legislature throughout Monday.

Today’s petition delivery was coordinated by TurnOUT! NC, a joint project of the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality, and Equality North Carolina, whose goal is to mobilize and empower LGBT and pro-equality North Carolinians against HB 2. 

“It’s time the legislature get to work repairing the damage it has caused with the passage of HB 2,” said Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, which is challengingthe law in federal court along with the national ACLU and Lambda Legal on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians. “HB 2 was a reckless attempt to malign and marginalize transgender people, and it is bringing immense harm to our state’s people, economy, and reputation. The General Assembly must work as expeditiously as possible to repeal this terrible law as it worked to pass it.”

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RALEIGH – Today, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and ACLU of North Carolina, joined by counsel from the law firm of Jenner & Block, announced they have added three new plaintiffs - a transgender student and a married lesbian couple - to the federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT law, HB 2.

Hunter Schafer is a seventeen year-old young woman and high school junior at University of North Carolina School of the Arts High School in Winston-Salem. Hunter was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the ninth grade. By her sophomore year she was using the girls’ restroom and feminine pronouns, and that year was elected to the Queens Court. This year, because of her talent as a visual artist, Hunter attends UNCSA-HS where she stays in the girls’ dorms. Because of the passage of HB 2, Hunter could be forced to use the boys’ restroom, which would cause her serious anxiety and expose her to threats of harassment and violence.

"I just want to be able to concentrate on school, grow as an artist, and have fun while doing that," Hunter said. “I’m not a man. I have always felt more comfortable in the girls’ dorm at school and the girls’ restroom and using them has never been a problem. It’s humiliating and scary that there's now a law that would force me to go to a boys’ bathroom when I clearly don’t belong there.”

Beverly Newell, 45, a realtor, and Kelly Trent, 39, a registered nurse, are a married lesbian couple who live in Charlotte.  As alleged in the amended complaint, Beverly and Kelly recently experienced discrimination first-hand, when a fertility clinic where they had scheduled an appointment called the couple to cancel the appointment saying that they do not serve same-sex couples.

“It’s unnerving to know that we could be turned away by any business for being a same-sex couple and have no recourse because of HB 2,” Beverly said. "HB2 has encouraged this type of conduct and we no longer have the ability to file discrimination complaints when this type of thing happens in our home city of Charlotte.  The bill has made it OK to harm LGBT people. The state of North Carolina is better than this. "

“High school students like Hunter should be able to go to school to learn and thrive. She should have the same privacy and respect that every student in North Carolina has and she shouldn’t be treated differently simply because she’s transgender,” said Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney with Lambda Legal. “HB 2 is an attack on some of the most vulnerable members of our community, transgender young people. A law like this has devastating effects on transgender students who already feel vulnerable and alone.”

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Richmond, Va. – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today ruled in favor of transgender male student Gavin Grimm in his challenge to Gloucester High School’s discriminatory restroom policy that segregates transgender students from their peers by requiring them to use “alternative, private” facilities.

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:

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RALEIGH — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) today issued an executive order that maintains House Bills 2’s provisions that force transgender people to use the wrong restroom while prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees.

 

The news follows the passage of House Bill 2, a measure that removes existing protections for gay and transgender people, blocks other localities from enacting protections, erodes existing rights for everyone under state nondiscrimination law, and forces transgender individuals to use the wrong restroom in schools and other government buildings.

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