UNC system announces it will follow HB2; ACLU calls move 'disappointing'

UNC system announces it will follow HB2; ACLU calls move 'disappointing'

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) - A number of groups in North Carolina are upset after University of North Carolina system President Margaret Spellings announced Thursday that the system will follow House Bill 2, the controversial bill that prevents transgender people from using the restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal, and Equality NC released the following joint statement:

"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 bill — passed during a special session held March 23— also included a section on wage and hour laws, where local governments could not impose conditions on how a business pays its employees.

The bill passed the House that afternoon and headed to the Senate for consideration. It passed the Senate 32-0 after Democrats walked out.

Gov. McCrory signed the bill that night and it went into effect April 1.

At least 225 cities and counties nationwide have passed similar anti-discrimination laws, according to the Associated Press.

Many towns and cities, as well as corporations already in the state and those considering expanding to North Carolina, have spoken out against HB2. PayPal, for example, canceled their plans to expand in Charlotte over the bill. The expansion would have brought 400 jobs to the area.

A number of state and city governments in the U.S. have even banned non-essential travel to North Carolina due to the bill's passage.

Numerous protests and gatherings have been held in Raleigh and throughout North Carolina, both for and against HB2.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, who's challenging Republican Gov. Pat McCrory to be North Carolina's next governor, said his office will not defend the constitutionality of HB2. Cooper also called it a "national embarrassment" and said that it "will set North Carolina's economy back if we don't repeal it."

Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina are challenging HB2 in court. Also named plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Equality North Carolina and the ACLU of North Carolina.

According to a release from the ACLU of North Carolina, the lawsuit argues that "…through HB2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state." The complaint argues that HB2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and invading the privacy of transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex, the release said.

The memo from UNC system President Margaret Spellings can be viewed here.