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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will allow students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity — a move the district says isn’t intended as a response to North Carolina’s House Bill 2.

The district announced the new policy last week after school personnel received training about LGBT and gender identity issues. “Students must have access to the restroom/changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity,” the policy states. “If there is a request for increased privacy, any student should be provided a reasonable accommodation,” including private or screened changing areas.

CMS says the policy change is in response to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in April that all students must be guaranteed access to bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity. “That’s the law of the land for five states that are in the 4th Circuit,” said CMS attorney George Battle III. He said the district wanted to make sure it was complying with the court’s ruling.

Battle said the new rules were not crafted as a response to House Bill 2, which says students in public schools must use the restrooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates. That law is being challenged in federal court with the U.S. Justice Department and the state suing each other about HB2’s implementation. “Just to make no mistake about it, this isn’t CMS taking a stand against HB2,” Battle said. “This is not us flouting our legislature. This is CMS following the law.”

But a spokesman for Gov. Pat McCrory said CMS was violating state law.

“Instead of providing reasonable accommodations for some students facing unique circumstances, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System made a radical change to their shower, locker room and restroom policy for all students,” said Graham Wilson, the governor’s press secretary, in a statement posted online. “This curiously-timed announcement that changes the basic expectations of privacy for students comes just after school let out and defies transparency, especially for parents. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System should have waited for the courts to make a decision instead of purposely breaking state law.”

CMS administrators said the policy will help provide clarity on a complicated issue. “We kind of had to deal with this on a case-by-case basis,” said Myers Park High School Principal Mark Bosco. “It was always about the most respectful scenario we could create for all parties and that’s difficult. What you try to do is make sure kids are going to be taken care of and they’re going to feel comfortable with how you have responded.”

The school board doesn’t have to vote on the policy change and it will take effect when school starts in August.


Here is a link to a training video used by CMS last week: https://vimeo.com/170654927/c63eeaa33c

Adam Rhew

Adam Rhew attended Beverly Woods Elementary, Carmel Middle, and South Mecklenburg High schools, all part of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. He earned a journalism and political science degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. He is a contributor to Southern Living, Charlotte magazine, and SBNation Longform, among other publications. Previously, Adam was an award-winning television and radio news reporter, with stops at stations in Chapel Hill, N.C., Charlottesville and Richmond, Va., and Charlotte, N.C.