CMS puts transgender bathroom policy on hold

CMS puts transgender bathroom policy on hold

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is delaying new rules that would have let transgender students use school bathrooms and locker rooms based on the gender they identify with.

CMS Superintendent Ann Clark made the announcement Thursday, one day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Virginia school board can block a transgender male from using the boys restroom when school starts this month.

Clark said her decision was based on the court ruling and not because a North Carolina-based group urged parents to deluge the school system with letters saying the regulations announced in June would jeopardize the "privacy, safety and dignity" of students.

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Last month, CMS implemented a policy that allowed transgender students to use whichever bathroom they choose or ask for a private facility.

“CMS remains committed to nurturing a safe and welcoming learning environment for every student," Superintendent Ann Clark said in a statement. "As a result of yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, we have placed a temporary hold on the section of the CMS bullying prevention regulation which states that transgender students will be given access to the restroom and locker room facilities corresponding to their gender identity. The rest of the regulation, which is intended to promote consistency in anti-bullying support for all students, will remain intact.  CMS will respect the Supreme Court's decision just as we did that of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

The CMS stay is in effect until the Court decides whether or not it will hear the Gloucester County School Board’s appeal in Virginia, CMS said in a statement. The effect of this stay is to restore the status quo prior to the Fourth Circuit’s ruling, meaning that the law is temporarily put back just as it was prior to the Fourth Circuit ruling in the Grimm case.

Equality NC Statement:

Today, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system put on hold important bullying preventions that would have protected many transgender students enrolled in the CMS system. Equality NC Executive Director, Chris Sgro, had the following to say:

“We were disappointed after seeing the Supreme Court's ruling yesterday. The impact of the ruling is still being assessed but we are hopeful schools will still accommodate transgender students.

I have talked to transgender students and their parents and they cannot wait any longer to be protected from bullying and discrimination. We are confident that ultimately the Supreme Court will rule in favor of these common sense policies and help transgender students feel comfortable and safe so that they can excel academically in school. In the meantime, I encourage school districts to work towards accommodating all students and keep the best interest of transgender students in mind- especially given the duress that many transgender students are experiencing under HB2."

Whether transgender people should be able to use the bathroom of their choice is a question the U.S. Supreme Court just signaled it may answer in a matter of months.

The justices voted 5-3 Thursday to block a lower court's decision that would have allowed transgender students in Virginia to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identities.

"We are currently in recess," a statement from the Supreme Court said about the Virginia ruling. "Granting a stay will preserve the status quo."

The statement says the court is considering whether to take up the issue of transgender bathroom use, a major social issue in the 2016 election after North Carolina passed a law requiring people to use public restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate.

The Human Rights Campaign criticized the U.S. Supreme Court's action as "deeply disappointing."

Students should be shielded from "unsafe and discriminatory conditions as they begin returning to school in the coming weeks,” said HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow said.

If justices pass on the case, the lower court ruling allowing unrestricted transgender public bathroom use in Virginia would immediately take effect.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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