Charlotte schools defying HB2 with new bathroom policy

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators president Erlene Lyde said the updated Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools policy now syncs with federal law Title IX, which protects transgender students in the classroom, wsoctv.com reported Tuesday.

That's in direct defiance of state law. North Carolina's House Bill 2 said students must use public restrooms and changing facilities based on their biological gender, but CMS's updated policy follows a federal appeals court ruling that says that is unconstitutional.

According to the updated policy, transgender students in Charlotte can either use the bathroom they want or still make a request for a private facility.

Staff must address students by name and pronoun corresponding to their gender identity, something Lyde told WSOC she's done before.

"I've called them by what they preferred to be called. It's not what's on their record, but it's to make the child feel safe, and secure and nurtured and understood and accepted," Lyde said.

"Whatever the personal views are on this subject -- I just want us all to know -- that our first and foremost duty is to take care of children," Lyde said.

Gov. Pat McCrory's office issued a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the Charlotte schools' action:

"Instead of providing reasonable accommodations for some students facing unique circumstances, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System made a radical change to their shower, locker room and restroom policy for all students," said Graham Wilson, Press Secretary for McCrory. "This curiously-timed announcement that changes the basic expectations of privacy for students comes just after school let out and defies transparency, especially for parents. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System should have waited for the courts to make a decision instead of purposely breaking state law."

READ MORE: Complete coverage of HB2 here

The North Carolina Values Coalition also condemned Charlotte's policy.

"Every child deserves a safe space, and it's our duty as parents to fight for their right to privacy. Charlotte-Mecklenburg's proposed new policy allowing students to use opposite-sex restrooms, locker rooms and showers will seriously endanger students' privacy and safety, undermine parental authority, and severely impair an environment conducive to learning," said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NCVC. "The district should continue their current policy to offer accommodations to students that have different preferences without compromising the privacy rights of all other students.

"Superintendent Ann Clark has chosen to violate the state's HB 2 law instead of following common sense accommodations and limiting restrooms and locker rooms to members of the same sex for privacy and safety reasons without violating Title IX," Fitzgerald added.

HB2 was designed to block a Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance, part of which allowed transgender people to use bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender they identify with. The state law requires people to use the restroom according to their biological sex listed on their birth certificate in government buildings, schools, and universities. The law also excludes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from anti-discrimination protections and blocks municipalities from adopting their own anti-discrimination and living wage rules.

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