The first-ever transgender campaign for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board has been a huge success.
On Monday, the group, Equality North Carolina, filed a federal lawsuit to allow transgender students to wear clothing that matches their gender identity.
The lawsuit, which was filed by the North Carolina ACLU and Equality North Carolinians, argues that transgender students are protected by Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, and that Charlotte school officials have violated the rights of transgender students by denying them access to restrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identities.
The lawsuit cites the fact that Charlotte officials have prohibited transgender students from using the boys’ and girls’ restrooms at school, as well as a lack of a consistent policy on locker rooms and locker rooms for transgender students.
The plaintiffs argue that the city’s “unlawful and unconstitutional denial of students access to bathrooms and locker room facilities in violation of Title IX violates their constitutional rights and is an unlawful deprivation of fundamental rights under the 14th Amendment,” according to a statement from the group.
Charlotte officials, however, deny the claims.
The district’s policy states that transgender employees must use the restroom and locker facility that corresponds with their assigned sex at the school, the statement said.
Charlotte schools are currently allowed to have “the gender-neutral facility” as long as it’s separate from the “sex-specific restroom or locker room.”
The district’s bathroom policy is still being revised, and transgender students may not use the restrooms or locker rooms designated for boys or girls.
The Charlotte Observer reported that school officials will be meeting with the group on Tuesday to discuss the new policy.
The ACLU also plans to file an emergency motion to intervene with the case, and has asked a federal judge to allow the lawsuit to proceed to a trial.
“The transgender community has been the focus of this campaign,” Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts told the Charlotte Observer.
“I don’t know what we would be without the transgender community.
We’re here to help them understand and appreciate what we’re about.”
The campaign began in early February, when Equality North Charlotte filed a complaint in the North Carolinian District Court.
The group was represented by Charlotte attorney Richard C. Cianfrance.
The plaintiffs, who include students, staff and parents, allege that the district’s failure to enforce the district policy violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Charlotte-mecklenberg School District has a “systematic pattern of discriminating against transgender students in restrooms, locker rooms, and other school facilities,” the lawsuit said.
The suit also alleges that the school’s refusal to comply with the federal guidance that states students should be able to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender at school is a violation of the 14-year-old Civil Rights Amendments of 1964, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and disability.
In February, the district announced that it would open its schools to transgender students, including by allowing them to use bathrooms consistent with their chosen gender identity and allowing them access and privacy in the restroom.
The announcement came just days after Charlotte- Mecklenburys school board voted to remove the Confederate flag from a public plaza, citing “deep, negative feelings” about the flag.
The Charlotte Observer’s Jill Colvin reported that a school official had said that transgender girls should be allowed to wear uniforms that matched their gender, as long it matched their dress.
“This is just a first step, and we will need to continue to work on this issue, which is a common misconception and a common challenge for transgender youth,” the school official said in February.
The school district has a transgender advisory committee that includes parents and staff.
The council, led by district Superintendent Karen Burchfield, has recommended that the flag be removed, and the school board approved the recommendation in a vote of 10-2 on Monday.
Burchfield told reporters that the transgender students will not have to wear a uniform at school.
“It’s just a question of if we can use this as an opportunity to educate our students on the importance of being authentic and who they are,” Burchfields said.
“And that includes our students, the families and the staff.
It’s not just an issue of who they wear, but what they wear.”