Administrators and staff at the University of North Carolina have been told to abide by the state's contentious new law that requires transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms that do not correlate to their gender identity.
An internal memo from University President Margaret Spellings on Thursday stated that all 17 campuses that make up the university's network will follow House Bill 2, which was whisked through the legislature and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory on March 23.
Nico Lang, reporting for the Advocate, writes that Spellings pointed out that the only LGBT change on campus is that transgender students are to utilize the facilities that have been assigned.
The ACLU, Equality North Carolina, and Lambda Legal denounced the president's stand on the bill. A joint statement from the three organizations said:
"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," the groups said.
An attorney with the ACLU's LGBT and HIV project, Chase Strangio, says the decision by UNC puts its transgender students in an untenable position.
"Of course, there won't actually be gender inspectors at the door of every restroom," Strangio says. "But the law and the University's decision to follow it â¦ will increase gender policing and harassment across the state. This policing will inevitably target most severely the transgender people of color who already experience the most violence and harassment at the hands of individuals and through systemic discrimination by the government."
There appears to be no way to enforce the law. Schools simply do not know what to do with the new measure.
The Obama administration in December of 2014 released an explanation of Title IX protections which prevent "discrimination on the basis of sex, race, and national origin in education" for students who are transgender. It added that schools were required to "treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes."
But the passage of HB2 may be confusing for faculty, staff, and federal agencies, and may not be sending a clear message to educational professionals who want to provide support for transgender students.
The law was rushed through so quickly that many students did not understand how the bill would affect them specifically. The bill seems to be aimed at restroom usage for the most part, but students are concerned that it could affect their dress code or alter the names and pronouns they prefer for themselves.
A spokesperson for the Wilmington Police Department wondered if students would have to have birth certificates with them when they go to a restroom.
Last week, two transgender men challenged the law by bringing a lawsuit against the UNC system and Gov. McCrory. Mark Abadi, writing for Business Insider, said that PayPal announced it would cancel a significant potential expansion that would have offered 400 new jobs in Charlotte.
Also, the NBA noted that the law could affect the state's opportunity to host future sporting events. And Bruce Springsteen canceled a weekend concert in North Carolina to show his solidarity with those opposed to HB2, reports The Washington Post's Mark Berman.
Amanda Oliver, writing an opinion piece for The Huffington Post, says the purpose behind the "Bathroom Bill" is supposed to be the protection of children from men feigning to be women and entering the restroom and assaulting young girls.
She continues by stating that this notion is 100% false, and it presumes that a transgender person is a pedophile.
Oliver, who has been a member of the Child Crimes division of a District Attorney's office and has prosecuted child abusers, reported she has never encountered a transgender assailant. She has, however, prosecuted many cyber attackers, stalkers, and bullies.
She says North Carolina wasted taxpayer money to prevent a crime that has never happened when it should have used it to protect children from something that has been proven to harm children.