Transgender lawsuit over Va. high school bathrooms divides McCrory, Cooper

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Pat McCrory announced Tuesday he is joining with South Carolina’s attorney general in opposing a lawsuit that would allow a transgender high school student in Virginia to use a men’s rest room.

While this case may be unfolding in Virginia, it’s being heard by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, which includes North Carolina.

A Virginia student, born female, identifies as male and wants to use male bathrooms. A school board policy requires students use private restrooms or restrooms designated for their biological sex.

The lawsuit on behalf of the student, Gavin Grimm, was filed in Norfolk, Virginia.

It also has the governor and North Carolina’s attorney general at odds heading into next year’s election.

McCrory said the Obama administration is threatening schools that resist with the loss of federal funding and McCrory said he will protect North Carolina values. McCrory said he will join South Carolina in an amicus brief in the case. He said Cooper had refused to do so.

But Cooper has rejected McCrory’s call for Cooper to side with the Virginia school district. Spokesman Jamal Little for Cooper’s campaign says the governor is politicizing and bullying a group of people.

“Adolescence is hard enough without being bullied by an elected official,” Little said.

Transgender student Gavin Grimm (WAVY-TV)
Transgender student Gavin Grimm (WAVY-TV)

The issue has caught the attention of the ACLU and Equality NC.

“It’s absolutely an issue for transgender students throughout the state of North Carolina, and it’s an issue that’s finding its way onto the North Carolina political scene,” said Chris Brook, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina.

Chris Sgro of Equality NC said, “Gov. McCrory should do his job and should concentrate on governing the state of North Carolina and not coming after adolescents and kids whose lives are hard enough already.”

But Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, had a different view.

“It’s just disappointing that Roy Cooper as the elected attorney general won’t stand up for the rights of North Carolinians and their local communities,” Woodhouse said.

McCrory originally called on Cooper to stand with South Carolina’s attorney general in opposing a lawsuit that would allow a transgender student to use the boys restroom at a high school in Virginia.

Cooper did not.

“It just seems inappropriate for the federal government to dictate how we might do bathrooms,” Woodhouse said.

This is an issue that some students on the University of North Carolina’s campus addressed two years ago.

Inside the Campus Y, a social justice center, the students decided the bathrooms would be open to people regardless of gender identity or expression.

Tom Sowders, the Campus Y communications coordinator, said, “There are some people for who the really hard, black or white, male/female doesn’t really fit.  We want the Campus Y to be a place that’s welcoming for people who identify across the spectrum of gender.”

There’s no set timetable on when the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will rule on this.

It could be sometime next year.

REACTION TO THE VIRGINIA LAWSUIT

 From Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger:

“Gov. McCrory is right: the concerns of transgender students can be easily accommodated without forcing children and teenagers to use shared dual-sex locker rooms and bathrooms. This is political correctness run amok, and it’s a shame Roy Cooper is pandering to the political extremes of his base instead of putting student safety and common sense first.

“If the attorney general thinks forcing middle school-aged boys and girls to use the same locker room is going to create jobs for anyone other than his trial lawyer friends, he should explain how.”

From Gov. Pat McCrory:

“North Carolina parents deserve certainty about who is entering their children’s bathrooms and locker rooms at our public schools and students must be confident that their privacy and well-being will be respected.

“Transgender identity is a complex issue and is best handled with reason and compassion at the local level, instead of mandates being forced on the people by Washington and the Obama Administration.”

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