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Justice Department decision on HB2 could impact schools, universities

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- John Dinan, a Wake Forest University political science professor, explains that although the federal government has not cut federal funding from schools in the past with similar laws like HB2, it’s a possibility and serious threat to spark change.

“It’s highly unusual for the federal government to actually cut off funds in situations where they put people on alert. Usually, that’s the starting point, usually negotiations ensue, sometimes judicial decisions ensue, but that is a tool that the federal government has,” Dinan said. “The school district in Chicago said, 'We actually don’t agree with you,' and they entered negotiations and eventually reached a settlement. But that settlement was reached because the federal government said, 'If we don’t agree with what you’re doing we could cut off federal funds.'”

The claims that HB2 is discriminatory are based on the Department of Justice’s interpretation of the education amendments from 1972 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Dinan clarifies that the portion of the law in question is only in reference to transgender individuals use of the restroom facilities, not the portions of the law that deals with filing a civil suit for employment against the state or minimum wage increases by local municipalities.

“Two parts of the HB2 would be affected by the justice department’s letter. One is the ability of public employees to use restrooms corresponding with their gender identity and two, students in schools receiving federal funds to be able to use restrooms, locker rooms, in accordance with their gender identity,” Dinan said.

On April 12, the Guilford County Schools Board of Education filed a resolution against HB2.

The possible impact if federal funding would be removed is approximately $130,000,000.

A representative from the N.C. Community College System released the following statement on federal impact:

“The NC Community College System receives $33 million in federal funds that support programs such as Career and Technical Education and Adult Education and Literacy. This represents approximately 2% of the system’s $1.4 billion budget. The loss of these funds would significantly impact these initiatives.

"Individual colleges may receive additional grant funds directly from the federal government. Examples include TRIO Grants, U.S. Department of Labor grants, etc., among others.”