Federal judge wants more lawyer input in bathroom law case

Federal judge wants more lawyer input in bathroom law case

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - A federal judge who's considering whether to block a North Carolina law governing transgender bathroom access wants to hear more from attorneys after the U.S. Supreme Court waded into a Virginia case.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder ordered lawyers to tell him how he should treat Wednesday's Supreme Court decision. The court ruled that a Virginia school board could temporarily block a transgender male from using the boys' restroom at school.

The high court agreed Wednesday to allow the Gloucester County School board to bar Gavin Grimm from the bathroom that matches his gender identity until the justices decide whether to review an appeals court ruling in his case.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided in April with Grimm, who argued the policy barring him from using the boys bathroom violated federal education discrimination law.

North Carolina's law requires transgender people to use the restrooms in public buildings that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates instead of their gender identity.

Schroeder heard attorneys debate the law Monday. Conservatives say the law protects privacy and safety.Transgender people say it discriminates against them and that restroom safety is protected by existing laws.

After Wednesday's ruling from SCOTUS, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools put a temporary hold on a new regulation that would have allowed transgender students to use the restroom and locker room that matches their gender identity.

"As a result of yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling, we have placed a temporary hold on the section of the CMS bullying prevention regulation which states that transgender students will be given access to the restroom and locker room facilities corresponding to their gender identity," CMS superintendent Ann Clark said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

"CMS remains committed to nurturing a safe and welcoming learning environment for every student," the statement continued. "The rest of the regulation, which is intended to promote consistency in anti-bullying support for all students, will remain intact."

Equality NC Executive Director, Chris Sgro, released a statement Thursday evening.

"We were disappointed after seeing the supreme court's ruling yesterday," Sgro said. "The impact of the ruling is still being assessed but we are hopeful schools will still accommodate transgender students."

"I have talked to transgender students and their parents and they cannot wait any longer to be protected from bullying and discrimination. We are confident that ultimately the Supreme Court will rule in favor of these common sense policies and help transgender students feel comfortable and safe so that they can excel academically in school," he continued. "In the meantime, I encourage school districts to work towards accommodating all students and keep the best interest of transgender students in mind- especially given the duress that many transgender students are experiencing under HB2."

In late June, The Charlotte Observer reported principals at schools across the district were sent a message saying "when school opens in August, transgender students will be called by the name and pronoun they choose. That chosen gender identity will be honored in restrooms, locker rooms, yearbooks and graduation ceremonies."

At the time, Clark said the goal of the CMS regulation was to allow all students to be safe and comfortable as they pursue an education.

"This is about courage, understanding and compassion," Clark told The Charlotte Observer in June. "These are our children. These are the community's children."

Clark and CMS attorney George Battle III said the then-regulation followed the guidance of a federal appeals court ruling and was not designed as an act of defiance against HB2, which, among other things, requires students to use public school restrooms and locker rooms based on the gender on their birth certificates.

"CMS will respect the Supreme Court's decision just as we did that of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals," Clark said Thursday.

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