ACLU of NC Statement Opposing HB 358

On April 14, 2021, the N.C. House of Representatives' Judiciary 1 Committee held a discussion on HB 358, a bill that singles out trans young people for discrimination and exclusion from school sports.

The ACLU of North Carolina's statement about the proposed legislation is below:

By imposing wholesale bans on girls and young women who are transgender participating in athletics consistent with their gender identity, this bill discriminates based on transgender status and sex in violation of the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.

After passing a very similar bill, the State of Idaho claimed that this was merely a law separating sports by sex. But the federal court rejected this argument, reaching the “inescapable conclusion that the Act discriminates on the basis of transgender status.” The court further held that given the small percentage of people who are transgender and the extensive discrimination that transgender people face, “it appears untenable that allowing transgender women to compete on women's teams would substantially displace female athletes.” Hecox v. Little, No. 1:20-CV-00184-DCN, 2020 WL 4760138, at *27 (D. Idaho Aug. 17, 2020). 

That it may be constitutionally permissible to separate boys’ and girls’ teams does not mean that it is constitutionally permissible to exclude transgender girls from girls’ teams. Every court to consider this question since the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision in Bostock has held that where a policy treats students who are transgender differently from and worse than students who are not, it violates both Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause.

If passed, HB 358 will send a message to transgender young people that they do not belong in their communities. It will be challenged in court and likely cost the state not only millions of dollars in litigation costs but also potentially the loss of hundreds of millions of federal dollars, which will be put at risk if the state knowingly passes a bill that violates Title IX. And for what? Political fearmongering, with not even a single identifiable example of harm in North Carolina. It is our hope that HB 358 will be defeated before anyone has to resort to litigation over the matter.