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Judge Won’t Force University of North Carolina to Enforce State’s Anti-Transgender Law

UNC rainbow HB2 ruling
UNC Chapel Hill/Instagram

Two transgender students and one transgender employee will be able to use the restroom matching their gender identities, thanks to partial ruling from a federal judge. 

A federal judge has allowed the University of North Carolina to budge slightly on the requirements of a state law that bans transgender students and employees from using restrooms matching their gender identity.

Judge Thomas Schroeder granted the university system a preliminary injunction, protecting them from enforcing North Carolina's HB2. However, the ruling's scope is not only limited to the school, but also to three specific individuals--two transgender students and one transgender employee.

"We welcome resolution of these issues by the court so that we can focus all of our efforts on our primary missions--educating students," according to press release from the university.

UNC president Margaret Spellings said in May she had "no intent" of enforcing the law on her campuses, and the university system hired independent legal counsel after the state attorney general's office decided not to represent the schools.

"We have long said that the university has not and will not be taking steps to enforce HB2," the statement said. "The university has been caught in the middle of a conflict that we did not receate between state law and federal guidance."

While UNC has this reprieve, the legal future of transgender laws like HB2 is murky. Federal courts in Virginia and Texas have recently blocked schools from following the Obama administration's guidance allowing transgender students to choose facilities based on gender identity. After a summer of court cases, most transgender students will start the school year with few to no state or federal protections regarding their gender identity.

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