In a major victory for LGBT advocates fighting legislative attempts to keep transgender people out of the bathrooms corresponding with their gender identities, a federal appeals court on Tuesday sided with the Obama administration's interpretation that an existing federal statute banning sex discrimination in education also protects transgender students seeking equal access to bathrooms and facilities. The 2-1 decision from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a lower court's determination that a transgender boy did not have grounds to sue his Virginia school board under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments over a policy requiring him to stay out of the boys' bathroom.
When North Carolina Republicans rushed through its controversial HB2 law, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) insisted the discriminatory policy wouldn't affect job creation in the state. The evidence is now overwhelming that the governor was wrong, with another tech company scrapping a job-creating project in North Carolina this week.
What McCrory needs is a way out of the mess he and his allies created. Last week's executive orders were intended to help resolve matters, but they did little to end the controversy.
Is there a face-saving solution that North Carolina Republicans could implement before matters get even worse? Maybe. Consider MSNBC's report yesterday on an important appeals court ruling out of Virginia.
This specific case involving a Virginia high-school student is not yet resolved, but the 4th Circuit yesterday sent the case back to the district level with instructions that support the boy's Title IX claim.
And that ruling is of direct relevance to North Carolina's law, which was created in part to prevent transgender people from using restrooms in line with their gender identities.
As MSNBC's report added, the ACLU and Lambda Legal issued a joint statement yesterday noting, "Today's ruling makes plain that North Carolina's House Bill 2 violates Title IX by discriminating against transgender students and forcing them to use the wrong restroom at school."
WRAL in Raleigh reported yesterday that McCrory's office is aware of the ruling in the Virginia case, and the governor "wants to hear from state lawyers about whether schools can keep implementing the law while the Virginia defendants consider whether to appeal."
Here's a radical idea: maybe now would be a good time for McCrory and his team to declare, "While we'd love to keep HB2 in place, that darned court ruling suggests we should go ahead and repeal the law immediately."
The 4th Circuit wasn't trying to throw the North Carolina governor a life-preserver, but it did. McCrory and the Republican-led state legislature would be wise to take advantage of the opportunity.