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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. 

Photo: Lonnie Billard in his home in Charlotte.

CHARLOTTE – A former Teacher of the Year who was fired from Charlotte Catholic High School after announcing on Facebook that he was marrying his longtime same-sex partner filed a federal lawsuit today that says his firing violates the Civil Rights Act.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the law firm Tin Fulton Walker & Owen on behalf of Lonnie Billard, who taught drama and English at Charlotte Catholic for more than a decade, both full-time and as a long-term substitute teacher. In 2012, Billard was named the school’s Teacher of the Year after being nominated by students.

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RALEIGH –The North Carolina legislature today convened for a special session where it failed to pass a bill repealing H.B. 2, the state’s sweeping anti-LGBT law.

Based on a promise from the General Assembly to fully repeal H.B. 2, the Charlotte City Council repealed its LGBT non-discrimination ordinances earlier this week. However, the Legislature failed to follow through on its promise, despite the deep and widespread opposition and outrage over the discriminatory nature of the law.

H.B. 2 bans transgender people from accessing restrooms and public facilities consistent with their gender identity and prevents local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people. H.B. 2 is estimated to have cost North Carolina over $600 million in lost revenue from businesses concerned with the discriminatory nature of the law, and was a contributing factor in the election defeat of the outgoing Governor Pat McCrory.

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RALEIGH – The Charlotte City Council voted today to repeal their LGBT non-discrimination ordinance in a move that could lead to the repeal of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law, H.B 2. The ACLU and Lambda Legal today called on North Carolina legislative leaders to follow through and repeal H.B. 2, the state law that bans many transgender people from appropriate restrooms and prohibits local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people. The law caused harm to transgender people across the state and cost North Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue because of widespread opposition to the measure from both the general public and business community.

The two organizations issued the following statement in response.

“H.B. 2 was an unprecedented attack on the LGBT community, in particular against transgender people, and we are encouraged that its days are numbered,” said Sarah Gillooly, Policy Director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “It is imperative that the General Assembly hold up their end of the deal and repeal H.B. 2 in full without delay. This will be an important step for North Carolinians to move forward, but it never should have come at the cost of protections for LGBT people living in Charlotte.”

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Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court today announced it will hear a case brought by the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia that adopted a discriminatory restroom policy that segregates transgender students from their peers and bars high school senior Gavin Grimm from using the restroom that matches his gender.

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal, the LGBT advocates challenging North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (H.B. 2), the state law that bans transgender people from the restrooms that match their gender, released the following statement:

“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will affirm the sound decision from the Fourth Circuit and recognize the profound harms from rules that ban transgender individuals from using the restroom. For Gavin and other transgender students who are barred from using appropriate restrooms, every day these exclusionary and discriminatory policies are in place is extremely harmful. We will continue to fight H.B. 2 on behalf of transgender people across North Carolina.”

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Legal groups seek reversal of lower court ruling that left most transgender North Carolinians vulnerable

RICHMOND – LGBT rights groups challenging the North Carolina law that bans transgender people from using restrooms that correspond to their gender identity yesterday filed their opening brief on appeal requesting that the preliminary injunction in the case be broadened to protect all transgender people in the state from discrimination. In August, a district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the North Carolina university system from enforcing H.B. 2 against the three individual transgender plaintiffs in the lawsuit Carcaño v. McCrory, which is scheduled for trial in May 2017. The advocates also asked the Fourth Circuit to expedite the appeal and schedule oral argument for January.

“Every day that H.B. 2 singles out transgender North Carolinians – whether at school, at work, or just moving through their daily lives – is another day that the transgender community is told that they are second class,” said Chris Brook, ACLU of North Carolina legal director. “Though the district court recognized the serious harm to three of our clients at UNC as a result of H.B. 2, that recognition unfortunately didn’t extend to the harms that law inflicts on other transgender individuals in public buildings across North Carolina. We hope and expect that the Fourth Circuit will expand this ruling to protect all transgender people.”

The appeal filed today argues that H.B. 2 violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because it specifically targets transgender people, and that discrimination against transgender people is a form of sex discrimination. While North Carolina has argued that H.B. 2 advances interests in public safety and privacy, Lambda Legal and the ACLU argue that these interests, which can be protected in other ways, do not justify the harms H.B. 2 imposes on transgender people and that to restore the status quo, the court must grant a broader preliminary injunction while the case proceeds to trial.

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