UNC president ridiculed for saying her schools must follow the law

Lobbyists are assailing the University North Carolina’s (UNC) president for asking all of her schools to abide by a new law that requires students to use bathrooms that correspond with their biological sex.

“It’s incredibly disappointing that the University of North Carolina has concluded it is required to follow this discriminatory measure at the expense of the privacy, safety, and wellbeing of its students and employees, particularly those who are transgender. By requiring people to use restrooms that do not correspond to their gender identity, this policy not only endangers and discriminates against transgender people – it also violates federal law,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a statement released in conjunction with Lambda Legal and Equity NC.

State lawmakers passed a Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, known as House Bill 2 (HB 2), late last month. The bill’s passage induced a sequence of protests across the UNC system, even causing the student government of the system’s flagship campus to pass a resolution in opposition to HB 2. Some student senators, however, abstained from voting on the resolution, expressing concern that gender neutral bathrooms could potentially welcome a situation conducive to sexual assault.

“If we allow people to legally go into whatever bathroom they identify with, it opens the door for frankly any pervert who wants to pose as a transgender to take advantage of people in that bathroom. I’m worried about the 21,606 registered sex offenders in North Carolina,” student senator Sophia McMahan said.

Margaret Spellings, UNC’s system president, addressed concerns from both sides of the aisle in a statement released Tuesday, explaining all of her schools must comply with the new law.

“University institutions must require every multiple-occupancy bathroom and changing facility to be designated for and used only by persons based on their biological sex,” Spellings said.

Single-occupancy bathrooms, however, can still be classified as gender-neutral.

A student, a faculty member, and a staff member from UNC system institutions have already filed a joint lawsuit against North Carolina’s governor, his attorney general, and the university. The lawsuit alleges that HB2 violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and invading the privacy of transgender people.

“Not only does this policy fail to protect my rights as a loyal and hard-working employee and make it harder for me to do my job, it sides with ignorance and fear,” said Joaquín Carcaño a UNC employee and transgender man who is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging HB 2. “All I want is to use the appropriate restroom, in peace, just like everyone else. But now I am put in the terrible position of either going into the women’s room where I don’t belong and am uncomfortable or breaking the law.”

The lawsuit is currently pending in federal court and could potentially strip funds from the university for Title IX violations.

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