WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A U.S. court approved a legal settlement in a victory for civil rights groups pushing to protect transgender people in North Carolina.
The settlement confirms that people who are transgender cannot be banned from using public restrooms in government facilities based on their gender under the wording of House Bill 142, the law that replaced HB 2.
“After so many years of managing the anxiety of HB 2 and fighting so hard, I am relieved that we finally have a court order to protect transgender people from being punished under these laws,” said Joaquin Carcaño, the lead plaintiff in the case. “This is a tremendous victory but not a complete one. While I am glad that Governor Cooper agreed to this settlement, it remains devastating to know that local protections for LGBTQ people are still banned under state law while so many members of our community continue to face violence, harassment, and discrimination simply because of who we are. The fight for full justice will continue.”
Payton McGarry, a Masters student at UNC-Greensboro, was also a plaintiff in the settlement. He emphasized that this settlement makes a big difference.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It allows trans people to go back and enter public life in a way that they don’t have to be fearful. We can go to the DMV and go to the courthouse and change our names. We can go to public universities and not have to worry about where we’re going to use the bathroom.”
Despite this victory, McGarry says there is still progress to be made.
“We have to wait until December 2020 until Greensboro can say once again that you cannot discriminate based on gender identity or anything beyond what the state mandates,” he said. “I think that’s the next big step.”
The ACLU of North Carolina announced the news Tuesday.
U.S. Judge Thomas Schroeder signed a consent decree order that was jointly submitted by Gov. Roy Cooper and civil rights groups representing LGBTQ North Carolinians.
Civil rights groups spent three years challenging North Carolina’s HB2, more commonly known as the bathroom bill, as well as the 2017 bill that replaced it.