The case was heard by the fourth circuit federal court of appeals, which presides over North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.
Maxine Eichner, a UNC law professor, said the transgender student argued the school board’s policy violated his Title IX rights — which prohibit discrimination based on sex.
“The Department of Education, which is charged with enforcing Title IX, has interpreted that guarantee against discrimination based on sex to require that students have access to bathrooms that conform with their gender identity,” she said.
Eichner said the appeals court decided to send the case back to the district court where the judge will have to apply the Department of Education’s Title IX interpretation when hearing the student’s case.
N.C. Governor Pat McCrory said in a press release Tuesday that he was concerned the ruling could threaten privacy.
The governor’s press office did not respond for further questions.
And Eichner said the fourth circuit’s ruling means the student will likely prevail in his claim of discrimination.
She said the decision also applies to House Bill 2 and North Carolina law.
“They’ve made it clear that Title IX — for all the territory covered by this circuit — mandates non-discrimination so that school children are entitled to the bathroom that comports with their gender identity,” Eichner said.
The ruling also jeopardizes more than $4 billion in Title IX funding for North Carolina schools, said Mike Meno, spokesperson for the ACLU of North Carolina.
State and national branches of the ACLU, Equality NC and Lambda Legal challenging House Bill 2.
Meno said the fourth circuit decision validates the and its focus on Title IX.
Since the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Education use similar anti-discrimination provisions based on sex, Eichner expects to see future challenges to the N.C. law.
She said she predicts courts will reach the same decision about the bathroom provision for employees as they did in Tuesday’s case for students.
Given , Meno said it is clear the state is moving in the wrong direction.
“North Carolina is the first state in the country to have passed something like this and it is already on very shaky legal grounds, as the fourth circuit ruling shows.”