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Transgender teen joins House Bill 2 lawsuit

Hunter Schafer, a transgender woman and student at the UNC School of the Arts high school in Winston-Salem, joined the lawsuit on Thursday involving the American Civil Liberties Union, Equality NC and Lambda Legal.

Lauren Whitaker, a spokesperson for the UNC School of the Arts, said in an email that the law has greatly impacted its students and their interests in the arts and entertainment — and has caused the cancellations of shows by Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Star and Cirque du Soleil.

“Canceled concerts and events and film projects relocated from North Carolina mean fewer job opportunities for students and alumni who routinely work behind the scenes,” Whitaker said in an email. “Anyone who thinks these projects and events are inconsequential should consider that the creative economy contributes $40 billion to the N.C. economy.”

Barbara Fedders, a UNC law professor, said it is possible for the lawsuit to win an injunction that would block House Bill 2’s effects in public schools within the next month.

“Under Title IX, schools must permit transgender individuals to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity,” Fedders said. “Schools should have begun to comply, but if not, once this injunction is moved for and issued, then we will have to comply or risk losing money.”

A recent UNC graduate and gender-nonconforming individual, who requested anonymity for privacy reasons, said gender-neutral bathrooms would accommodate a broader spectrum of people.

“Not all trans people are men and women — same goes for cis people, of course — but I haven’t seen anything written about what this bill means for non-binary trans people,” they said in an email. “It’s just worth mentioning that non-binary trans folks, like myself, are technically always in the ‘wrong’ bathroom or locker room if it has a gender marker on the door.”

The graduate student said incidents of bullying have risen for transgender people since the passage of House Bill 2, making schools a place of fear for them.

But at the School of the Arts, Whitaker said Schafer and other transgender individuals have been met with encouragement.

“There has been an outpouring of support on campus for Hunter and her decision to join the lawsuit,” she said.

“She is an incredible, courageous young woman whose heart and spirit inspire all of us.”

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