The American Civil Liberties Union, Equality North Carolina, and three individuals have filed a federal lawsuit against North Carolina's newly passed anti-LGBTQ law.
The law, passed Wednesday, overturns and bans cities' and counties' anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQ people. And it forces transgender people in schools and government buildings to use the bathroom that matches the gender marked on their birth certificate, not their gender identity.
As BuzzFeed reported, the lawsuit takes aim at both parts of the law, asking for an injunction against the law's enforcement.
The federal lawsuit argues that the law violates LGBTQ people's constitutional rights, particularly equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment, by singling out LGBTQ people for discrimination and fewer protections. It states that North Carolina's law "imposes a different and more burdensome political process on LGBT people than on non-LGBT people who have state protection against identity-based discrimination."
The lawsuit also argues that North Carolina's law violates federal law, specifically Title IX. That federal law bans sex discrimination in federally funded schools, which LGBTQ groups say also extends to transgender people. (Discrimination against trans people, after all, is fundamentally about expectations of what people of certain sexes assigned at birth should be like.) The Justice Department and Department of Education agree that Title IX protects trans people, giving the claim some extra weight and potentially putting North Carolina at risk of losing federal funds for schools.
According to the lawsuit, the government has no compelling or legitimate interest to discriminate against LGBTQ people and the law is, therefore, unconstitutional.
Gov. Pat McCrory argued that the anti-LGBTQ law was necessary after Charlotte passed an ordinance protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. McCrory said Charlotte's law posed a public safety concern. He invoked the oft-cited bathroom myth: the idea that if trans people are legally allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, men will take advantage of the law to enter women's bathrooms to harass and sexually assault women.
But even with the Charlotte ordinance, sexual assault remained illegal in Charlotte and North Carolina. And reports from Media Matters have found zero evidence of increases in sexual assault or harassment in cities, states, and schools that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. Proponents of North Carolina's law have also been unable to point to a single instance of sexual assault or harassment that resulted from LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws.
Yet the myth has been used not just in North Carolina but in other states and cities, like Houston, to challenge laws that protect LGBTQ people. North Carolina is the first state to pass an explicit anti-trans bathroom bill — but that may not last long if courts side with LGBTQ people and activists.
To learn more about North Carolina's law, read Vox's explainer.