North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper brokered a settlement, approved by a federal judge last Tuesday in a collaboration between Cooper and LGBTQ advocates, that will open bathrooms to people in state government buildings based on their gender identity rather than biological sex.
The settlement, approved by federal judge Thomas Schroeder, was proposed by Cooper, a Democrat, the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and six LGBTQ plaintiffs. It addresses an embattled 2016 state law that restricted the use of bathrooms in government buildings according to biological sex. The new settlement reverses that by preventing the state government from banning transgender people from using bathrooms in state buildings according to their gender identity.
The agreement covers only bathrooms in public buildings controlled by administrative agencies, including most state offices in the capital city of Raleigh, highway rest stops, state parks and historic sites.
Conservatives in the state Legislature have already filed court papers opposing the settlement, Reuters reported.
When the Republican-controlled Legislature passed North Carolina’s House Bill 2 in March 2016, the Tarheel state quickly made national headlines. HB 2 required transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponded with the gender on their birth certificate when in government and public buildings.
In turn, the Obama administration sued the state. Also, organizations like the NBA and the NCAA threatened to cancel events in the state, which would have potentially cost the state millions in revenue.
In 2017, HB 2 was repealed and replaced by HB 142, a compromise bill that said only the state could establish policies on bathroom access. Still, LGBTQ advocates were not happy with the compromise and argued that the law violated their equal protection rights under the Constitution.
Last week, after a costly two-year legal fight, Gov. Cooper signed a consent decree stating that the executive branch cannot use the state law to “bar, prohibit, block, deter or impede any transgender individual from using facilities under any executive branch defendant’s control of supervision, in accordance with the transgender individual’s gender identity.”
“Thank God that public schools are not under the governor’s control, or every bathroom and locker room in public schools would be open to members of the opposite sex,” wrote the North Carolina Values Coalition in a statement. “Women and children have an equal right to safely access public restrooms, showers and changing facilities without risking their safety.
“[Governor Cooper] has acceded to the demands of radical groups and transgender activists instead of protecting your rights to protect your daughters and granddaughters from invasion of their privacy by transgender activists who are waging war on our culture.”