The legal basis of the complaint is discrimination based on sex, in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. The CSE brought forward the complaint on behalf of LGBTQ+ students, staff, families and faculty that experience discrimination in state public schools.
S.B. 49 requires North Carolina public schools to notify parents prior to the any changes in a student’s name or pronouns used in school records or by school personnel. The law also prohibits instruction on gender identity, sexuality and sexual activity in kindergarten through fourth grade.
According to the complaint, the mandates from the N.C. State Board of Education and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to implement S.B. 49 have created a hostile educational environment in public schools.
The law has forced the involuntary outing of transgender students and prevented LGBTQ+ students from accessing supportive teachers and resources, according to the complaint.
“This discrimination has created a hostile educational environment that harms LGBTQ students on a daily basis and, in so doing, violates Title IX,” the complaint said. “It has placed educators in the impossible position of choosing between following the dictates of their state leaders or following federal and state law, as well as best practices for safeguarding all of their students."
The Campaign for Southern Equality requested the federal government directly address the provisions that violate Title IX. They also requested the state board of education and the NCDPI provide trainings for the Title IX coordinators in school districts and charter schools on the legal protections for LBGTQ+ students.
The complaint comes after the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education decided on Jan. 18 not to comply with the parts of S.B. 49 that require parent notification of student pronoun changes and prohibit discussion of gender identity.
"I think that Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education has the same legal analysis that we do," Craig White, the supportive schools director for the Campaign for Southern Equality, said. "This state law violates Title IX, which is a federal non discrimination law, and that truly, there's no way to comply with S.B. 49 without violating federal law."