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Mar 29, 2016

BREAKING: In Wake of North Carolina’s Discriminatory Anti-LGBT Law, More Than 140 National, State and Local Advocacy Groups Urge President Obama to Issue Guidance on Access to State’s Public Facilities

Letter to White House asks the president for clear instructions on applying federal anti-discrimination laws to guarantee students and others access to public facilities consistent with their gender identity

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), Equality North Carolina, and more than 140 other national, state and local advocacy groups are calling on President Obama to issue clear public access guidance to North Carolina school districts and other agencies covered by federal sex discrimination laws in light of the state’s discriminatory law targeting LGBT people, particularly youth.

While expressing appreciation for the White House’s strong statement against North Carolina’s law, the organizations assert that, left unchecked, the radical law could undermine historic progress the administration has made improving the lives of LGBT people. The new law strips municipal protections for LGBT people across the state, and aims to both prohibit students from using restrooms and other school facilities consistent with their gender identity, and bar transgender people from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in all state-owned property.

“From your heartfelt ‘It Gets Better’ video to your clear support for marriage equality and workplace protections, LGBT young people and their parents have come to look to your administration for leadership and hope,” the organizations wrote in an open letter to President Obama. “However, too many students – including every single transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming student in North Carolina – will go to sleep tonight dreading the next school day. Not because of homework assignments missed or chemistry labs gone awry, but because of fear for their safety simply because of who they are. These students and their families are depending on your continued leadership and they cannot wait.”

Under the Obama administration, the Departments of Education and Justice have enforced federal Title IX protections prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sex stereotyping as unlawful sex discrimination under the statute. The organizations are asking the administration to issue guidance about how those protections can and will be enforced in the face of North Carolina’s harmful and regressive House Bill 2 (HB 2).

“The transgender students affected by this are among our nation’s most vulnerable youth,” said Chad Griffin, President of HRC, the nation’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. “Transgender youth are already at heightened risk of experiencing violence, bullying, and harassment, and North Carolina’s action exacerbates those risks by creating a hostile environment in one of the places they should feel the safest. There is an immediate and overwhelming need to protect their rights under federal law.”

"Transgender students and their parents in North Carolina, and other people who use public buildings, are scared because of the reprehensible law their legislators have imposed. The president has already said HB 2 is mean-spirited and wrong,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of NCTE, the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people. “Now we need his administration to tell North Carolina and schools and other institutions nationwide that this kind of discrimination also violates federal law."

“North Carolina HB 2 is the most anti-LGBT bill this session, if not in years,” said Chris Sgro, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina, which works to secure equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) North Carolinians. “We are concerned for the safety of members of our community, and for the reputation of our great state. President Obama has been a tireless advocate for the LGBT community, and we implore him to ensure that federal non-discrimination protections are made clear and enforced.”

A survey by the HRC Foundation found that three-quarters of transgender students feel unsafe in school settings. This startling number will only rise if the North Carolina law, and other similar bills proposed in other states, continue to target these young people.

North Carolina’s needless and mean-spirited law not only repeals local non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, it also puts school districts directly at odds with with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, which has unequivocally stated that, “Discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, a person’s transgender status, or a person’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes constitutes discrimination based on sex. As such, prohibiting a student from accessing the restrooms that match his [or her] gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX.” It also places school districts at risk of losing federal funding, opening them up to lawsuits and other liability for infringing on these students’ basic human rights.

ABOUT EQUALITY NC: Equality NC is a statewide organization working to secure equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender North Carolinians. For more information, please visit w​ww.equalitync.org

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.

The National Center for Transgender Equality is the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people.

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