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North Carolina’s years-long legal fight over transgender people and bathroom access came to an end Tuesday, when a federal judge approved a settlement that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and gay rights groups had proposed.

The settlement says the state government can’t ban transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. It applies only to public restrooms and similar facilities in state government buildings.

“After so many years of managing the anxiety of H.B.2 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 Carcaño, a transgender man and UNC-Chapel Hill employee who is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state over LGBT discrimination.

The settlement ended only part of the case. According to the ACLU of North Carolina, which is involved in the case, another part of the lawsuit is on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court addresses issues related to workplace discrimination claims by LGBT people.

North Carolina law currently does not have discrimination protections for LGBT people. The state also made it illegal, through both HB2 in 2016 and the HB2 replacement law passed in 2017, for local governments to pass their own anti-discrimination rules to protect LGBT people.

“LGBTQ North Carolinians still lack comprehensive, statewide nondiscrimination protections while on the job, patronizing a business open to the public, or simply going about their daily lives,” said Irena Como, acting legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina.


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