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RALEIGH – Today, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and ACLU of North Carolina, joined by counsel from the law firm of Jenner & Block, announced they have added three new plaintiffs - a transgender student and a married lesbian couple - to the federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT law, HB 2.

Hunter Schafer is a seventeen year-old young woman and high school junior at University of North Carolina School of the Arts High School in Winston-Salem. Hunter was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the ninth grade. By her sophomore year she was using the girls’ restroom and feminine pronouns, and that year was elected to the Queens Court. This year, because of her talent as a visual artist, Hunter attends UNCSA-HS where she stays in the girls’ dorms. Because of the passage of HB 2, Hunter could be forced to use the boys’ restroom, which would cause her serious anxiety and expose her to threats of harassment and violence.

"I just want to be able to concentrate on school, grow as an artist, and have fun while doing that," Hunter said. “I’m not a man. I have always felt more comfortable in the girls’ dorm at school and the girls’ restroom and using them has never been a problem. It’s humiliating and scary that there's now a law that would force me to go to a boys’ bathroom when I clearly don’t belong there.”

Beverly Newell, 45, a realtor, and Kelly Trent, 39, a registered nurse, are a married lesbian couple who live in Charlotte.  As alleged in the amended complaint, Beverly and Kelly recently experienced discrimination first-hand, when a fertility clinic where they had scheduled an appointment called the couple to cancel the appointment saying that they do not serve same-sex couples.

“It’s unnerving to know that we could be turned away by any business for being a same-sex couple and have no recourse because of HB 2,” Beverly said. "HB2 has encouraged this type of conduct and we no longer have the ability to file discrimination complaints when this type of thing happens in our home city of Charlotte.  The bill has made it OK to harm LGBT people. The state of North Carolina is better than this. "

“High school students like Hunter should be able to go to school to learn and thrive. She should have the same privacy and respect that every student in North Carolina has and she shouldn’t be treated differently simply because she’s transgender,” said Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney with Lambda Legal. “HB 2 is an attack on some of the most vulnerable members of our community, transgender young people. A law like this has devastating effects on transgender students who already feel vulnerable and alone.”

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By Keely Burks

I am like a lot of eighth grade students. I try to do my best in class, I like sports and playing outside, and I regularly go to Bible classes. I also believe in standing up for myself and others. So last year, along with some friends, I created a petition to ask my school to change its policy that says girls have to wear skirts to school or risk being punished.

I go to Charter Day School, a K-8 public charter school in Leland, North Carolina. Like a lot of schools, Charter Day has a uniform policy. That policy says that all female students have to wear skirts that are “knee-length or longer” and that we can’t wear pants or shorts, except on gym days. Boys are able to wear pants and shorts every day. My friends and I got more than 100 signatures on our petition, but it was taken from us by a teacher and we never got it back. Some parents asked about changing the policy, but the school said that making girls wear skirts is supposed to promote “chivalry” and “traditional values.”   

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LELAND, N.C. – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, and the law firm of Ellis and Winters LLP filed a federal court challenge yesterday on behalf of three Brunswick County students against a section of a K-8 public charter school’s dress code that requires female students to wear skirts to school and prohibits them from wearing pants or shorts.

In the lawsuit against Charter Day School in Leland, North Carolina, three students – ages 5, 10, and 14 – say that wearing skirts restricts their movement, inhibits them in school situations such as playing at recess or sitting on the floor, and causes them to feel uncomfortably cold in the winter.

“There are a lot of situations – whether it’s playing outside, sitting on the floor, or trying to stay warm in the cold – where wearing a skirt makes my daughter uncomfortable and distracts her from learning,” said Bonnie Peltier, the mother of a 5-year-old Charter Day School student who is a client in the case. “I’m not against a dress code, but it’s 2016. Girls should be allowed to wear pants as part of the dress code. As a parent, nothing is more important to me than my children, and I don’t want an outdated policy to get in the way of their education.”

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LAKE LURE, N.C. – The Board of Directors of Lake Lure Classical Academy voted in a special session last night to lift its ban on student-led clubs. A new policy will require K-8 students, but not high school students, to obtain parental consent to join clubs.

The board had suspended all student-led noncurricular clubs after some community members challenged an LGBTQ+ club that was recently formed to promote tolerance and equality for all students. The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) had urged the school to rescind the ban and provide equal treatment to all student-run clubs, including the LGBTQ+ club.

“We commend the board for allowing all student-run clubs to have equal access to school resources,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU-NCLF. “Federal law requires all students clubs – whether it’s a chess club, Bible study group, or Gay-Straight Alliance – to be treated equally. It’s also important that the new policy allows high school students to exercise their First Amendment right to decide what clubs to join. Students should be free to join LGBTQ+ and Gay-Straight Alliance clubs that seek to create a safe space and promote equality for all students on campus. ”

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