Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

An ongoing restroom saga

Family | North Carolina battles for a solution that will make everyone happy
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 7/26/19, 03:57 pm

A federal judge in North Carolina on Tuesday approved a legal settlement that will allow transgender individuals to use the restroom of their choice in buildings controlled by the state’s executive branch.

The consent decree settles a lawsuit between Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, and a group of transgender plaintiffs who sued the state in 2016 after it passed HB2, legislation requiring individuals use restrooms matching the gender on their birth certificate in state government-owned buildings.

In exchange for the plaintiffs dropping pending legal action against Cooper and other defendants, the state agreed that nothing in the current law can be interpreted to “prevent transgender people from lawfully using public facilities in accordance with their gender identity” in buildings under the authority of “the executive branch defendants.” This includes the office of the governor, the state attorney general, and the North Carolina departments of administration, health and human services, and transportation.

The North Carolina General Assembly passed HB2—the so-called “bathroom bill”—in March 2016 in response to the city of Charlotte adopting a local ordinance that would allow men who identify as women to enter women’s restrooms, showers, and locker rooms in the city.

Then-Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, signed the measure into law the day it passed the legislature. It immediately became a lightning rod in the fight for transgender rights across the country, inciting protests and boycott threats from other state governments, large corporations, the film industry, and sports teams and leagues.

In March 2017, the North Carolina General Assembly repealed and replaced HB2 with HB142, which removed controversial language about restroom access but included a moratorium on cities or counties implementing any new anti-discrimination ordinances (like the ones used to go after Colorado baker Jack Phillips) until December 2020. The newly elected Cooper signed the compromise measure immediately, trying to put to bed public scrutiny over North Carolina’s handling of restroom access policies and to meet a deadline imposed by the NCAA. The collegiate sports organization threatened to bar basketball-crazy North Carolina from hosting NCAA tournament games unless it repealed HB2.

But the plaintiffs in the pending lawsuit quickly amended their suit to fight the replacement law, challenging the moratorium on new local laws and arguing the new law continued to harm them by creating uncertainty over restroom rules.

The settlement signed this week is similar to an executive order issued by Cooper in October 2017. However, unlike the executive order, the finalized consent decree has staying power beyond the current administration and requires an act of the state legislature to change.

LGBT activists celebrated the settlement as a victory. “After so many years of managing the anxiety of HB2 and fighting so hard, I am relieved that we finally have a court order to protect transgender people from being punished under these laws,” said Joaquin Carcano, the lead plaintiff in the case and a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill employee who identifies as transgender. But Carcano added that the law’s moratorium on new local ordinances “remains devastating” to him.

“The importance of this cannot be understated—it is about nothing less than the ability to enter public spaces as an equal member of society,” said Lambda Legal attorney Tara Borelli, who represented the plaintiffs.

Critics contend the settlement sacrifices the privacy and security of all North Carolinians.

“For hundreds of years in our country and in our state it’s been understood that men go into men’s bathrooms and women go into women’s bathrooms,” John Rustin, the president and executive director of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, said, adding that those lines of demarcation have protected the safety, integrity, and general dignity of both men and women.

He pointed out his criticism of the measure does not mean he thinks transgender individuals intend ill will or harm to others. “But it does literally open doors to bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms for men to enter,” Rustin said, “and some of those [men] will have ill intentions, and they can simply claim, ‘Hey, I choose to identify as a female and I’m fully under my rights to enter these intimate facilities that are typically designated for women.’”

The decree does not preclude any of the parties from passing or challenging future legislation should the North Carolina General Assembly take up the issue again.

Associated Press/Photo by Kristen Zeis/The Daily Press Associated Press/Photo by Kristen Zeis/The Daily Press Gavin Grimm (center) at Slover Library in Norfolk, Va., on Tuesday

Likely win for Gavin Grimm

A federal judge in Virginia this week heard arguments in the yearslong legal battle between a Virginia school board and a former student, Gavin Grimm, who identifies as transgender.

During a hearing in Norfolk, Va., on Tuesday, American Civil Liberties attorney Joshua Block argued that a Gloucester County School Board policy requiring Grimm, a biological female, to use the girls’ restroom singled out and stigmatized Grimm. Block also decried the fact that the board refused to change the sex on Grimm’s high school transcript from female to male, even though Grimm obtained a Virginia birth certificate with a male sex designation in 2016.

But the board’s attorney, David Corrigan, said the restroom policy was based on a binary understanding of sex, not a “societal construct.” He said the school treated Grimm respectfully and provided the student with the option to use single occupancy restrooms, which Grimm refused.

“Grimm’s amended birth certificate does not change his biological and physiological sex, which remains female,” Corrigan told the judge.

Grimm first sued the school district in 2015 after the board passed a policy requiring students to use restrooms corresponding to their biological sex or use single-occupancy restrooms. A federal judge initially sided with the school board, but an appeals court ruled in Grimm’s favor, citing an Obama administration directive allowing students to choose a restroom based on their gender identity.

The U.S. Supreme Court backed out of hearing the case in 2016 after the Trump administration rescinded the directive, sending the case back to U.S. District Court. In March, the Gloucester County School Board held a public forum on whether it should change its policy, potentially settling the lawsuit, but decided not to take action.

U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen has sided with Grimm during previous steps in the case and is expected to issue a ruling in the coming weeks.

Regardless of her ruling, the overall issue of gender identity and rights for transgender individuals is far from settled, said Gary McCaleb, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. He noted there are pending cases concerning a Connecticut policy on transgender high school athletes and a transgender individual who was fired by a Michigan funeral home. —K.C.

Associated Press/Photo by Jeff Chiu Associated Press/Photo by Jeff Chiu A maintenance hole–to-be in Berkeley, Calif.

Gender-neutral everything

Neither firemen nor manholes will exist in Berkeley, Calif., by fall. From then on, only “firefighters” and “maintenance holes” are allowed.

The city passed an ordinance Tuesday enforcing the use of more gender-neutral language in Berkeley’s code. It also contains a list of roughly 40 banned gendered words, including “manpower” and “salesman.” These terms will be replaced with “human effort” and “salesperson,” respectively.

Rigel Robinson, a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the youngest city council member, believes it’s high time for the change, so that city code doesn’t make it sound like “men are the only ones that exist in entire industries or that men are the only ones on city government.”

Although welcomed by many, the statute has met some resistance from Berkeley locals who think creating new laws just to appease changing ideals is a slippery slope.

One Berkeley resident, Laramie Crocker, thinks the city should be concentrating its energy on more pressing matters. “Let’s figure out how to get homeless people housed and fed,” he said. “He, she, they, it—they’re wasting my time.” —Loren Skinker

Instagram/harrisjosh Instagram/harrisjosh Joshua and Shannon Harris

Joshua Harris separating from wife

Joshua Harris, author of the 1997 bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a primer on purity and courtship that gained a cultlike following, announced last week that he and his wife are separating after 19 years of marriage.

In an Instagram post, Harris, 44, said he and his wife, Shannon, would continue their life together as friends. “In recent years, some significant changes have taken place in both of us,” he wrote. “It is with sincere love for one another and understanding of our unique story as a couple that we are moving forward with this decision.”

Harris stepped down after 10 years as lead pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., in 2015 to attend seminary in Canada. In the years since then, Harris has publicly grappled with the book’s legacy, releasing a documentary project called I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye, where he questions some of its recommendations. In an interview with WORLD Magazine’s Sophia Lee last year, Harris said the book addressed legitimate issues with Christians and modern dating but did so with “simple solutions when life is very complex.” —K.C.

Ecuador joins the club

A same-sex couple married in Ecuador for the first time last week, following a landmark ruling last month by the country’s highest court legalizing same-sex marriage. Ecuador joins 29 other countries with legalized same-sex marriage. —K.C.

Kiley Crossland

Kiley reports on marriage, family, and sexuality for WORLD Digital. Follow Kiley on Twitter @KileyCrossland.

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    Posted: Fri, 07/26/2019 05:19 pm

    People should NOT have to dress or go to the bathroom in front of ANYONE!

    My grandfather told my mother that during the WWI? they had to share the restrooms in France with women.

    She said something about him being able to shake hands with the person in the stall next to him. 

    I remember her telling me this, but I don't know if it is true. 

    Posted: Fri, 07/26/2019 05:24 pm

    As a homeschool family I am not very happy about what has happened with Joshua and Shannon Harris.

    It's always upsetting when the world gets a grip on a pastor. 

    My eyes are still on Jesus. Sweetest name I know. Fills my every longing. Keeps me singing as I go. :-)

    Posted: Fri, 07/26/2019 05:28 pm

    Gender neutral everything

    Since when do Dems. focus on anything beneficial for Americans. It's important to be politically correct. 

    People can be starving, but as long as there are SNAP cards for anyone who does NOT need them, we're good.

  • VISTA48
    Posted: Fri, 07/26/2019 06:32 pm

    The whole bathroom issue is contrived. The LGBTQ crowd says that they merely want to feel safe and quietly go about their business, so why loudly force 98% of the population to bow to their deviancy? This is my problem with the gay agenda; they don't want equality or acceptance, they want their deviant behavior to be legitimized under penalty of law. Tell me again why 2% of the population is all of a sudden driving all of our national policy?

  • OldMike
    Posted: Sun, 07/28/2019 02:49 am

    Yes, so 2% (I seriously doubt it is even 1%) can feel safe and unthreatened, they demand 98% (maybe more like 99 1/2%) put up with feeling threatened, apprehensive, anxious.

    Among other things, this will lead to physical health problems for many women.   I understand a major cause of urinary tract infections (uti’s) in women is waiting as long as possible to “go,” like if waiting til they get home to their own safe restroom. 

    But you know the people who make these laws don’t have to use the restrooms we commoners use. 

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Mon, 07/29/2019 01:34 pm

    Joshua Harris not only renounced his marriage and his book on purity, he also just renounced his faith.  He says he is no longer a Christian as he apologizes to the LGBQT+ community.  We can expect another announcement from him soon.

  • My Two Cents
    Posted: Tue, 07/30/2019 02:00 pm

    I, too, wondered about the coupling of these specific announcements together. First his marriage, then a few days later he announces he is no longer a Christian, and by the way, I want to apologize to the alphabet club. No apology to his church that he pastored for heretical preaching or deception. No apology to his wife, parents and family for betrayal and deception. But, yeah, so sorry I hurt y'all's feelings.  Yep. I agree, Xion. I fully expect a coming out of the closet announcement very soon, possibly as a woman. I hope I'm wrong, and I am praying fervently for a Peter Conversion. 

  • Sam C
    Posted: Tue, 07/30/2019 10:55 pm

    What's the over/under on his coming out as a homosexual?

  •  Peter Allen's picture
    Peter Allen
    Posted: Mon, 07/29/2019 01:47 pm

    Pray for the Harris couple.  Regarding sexuality and relationships it is as if with the internet, we live in the time written about in Revelation where satan has been thrown down from heaven to make way on the church.  After 32 years of faithfull marriage (to my best friend) our passion has only grown.  It has been however due to lives of walking with God, and through the power of His Holy Spirit.  That is the only chance we have in this day and age.  But by God's grace, that would have been us.  

    Regarding bathrooms let them all be private floor to ceiling walled stalls and common, open view wash areas.  More like in Europe.  I was always concerned when my boys were little about the potential gay pervert looking over the urinal divider (if there was one) at my boys.  It is all too mixed up now sexually.  Just make them all private.