Gender neutral bathrooms at CFCC may be prohibited under new law

Gender neutral bathrooms at CFCC may be prohibited under new law
Gender neutral bathrooms include signage with a man and woman on it. (Source: WECT)
Gender neutral bathrooms at CFCC include urinals and stalls (Source: WECT)
Gender neutral bathrooms at CFCC include urinals and stalls (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Gender neutral restrooms on the campuses of Cape Fear Community College may not be allowed under a proposed new law signed Wednesday night by Gov. Pat McCrory.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly took action Wednesday in a special session, after the Charlotte City Council recently approved a broad anti-discrimination ordinance that allows transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity.
The Senate voted for House Bill 2, also known as the "Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act", hours after the House passed it by a wide margin. It mandates that transgender individuals must use the restroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate.

"The basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, for each gender was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and city council of Charlotte," McCrory said in an email statement. "This radical breach of trust and security under the false argument of equal access not only impacts the citizens of Charlotte but people who come to Charlotte to work, visit or play. This new government regulation defies common sense and basic community norms by allowing, for example, a man to use a woman's bathroom, shower or locker room."

Rep. William Brisson (D-Bladen) is one of eleven House Democrats who voted to overturn Charlotte's ordinance. Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover) joined the majority of Democrats voting against it. Rep. Ken Waddell (D-Columbus) was absent from Wednesday's session. All Wilmington-area Republicans including Rep. Rick Catlin and Rep. Ted Davis of New Hanover County, Rep. Frank Iler of Brunswick County and Rep. Chris Millis of Pender County voted for the measure.

State lawmakers heard from both sides of the issue in Raleigh, before they began debate on the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act.

Strong emotions came from members of the LGBT community, as they spoke out supporting the ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council, which was scheduled to go into effect on April 1.

Cape Fear Community College has had gender neutral restrooms on both the downtown and north campuses for years, allowing use by members of both sexes. For anyone who wants to take extra safety precautions, you can even lock the door.

"In 2013, we had a student contact us about gender neutral restrooms," said Rachel Nadeau with CFCC. "So we contacted the attorney general's office we developed the plan and identified the restrooms and those became our gender neutral bathrooms."

They have signage, a male and female standing side by side, and inside are three urinals and two stalls. The multiple occupancy aspect may be what takes these bathrooms out of service, according to one of the sponsors of HB2. Part of the bill says "Public agencies shall require every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility to be designated for and only used by persons based on their biological sex."

"Sounds like it's prohibited now," said Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), one of the main sponsors of the bill, after he was asked about whether the multiple-occupancy, gender neutral restrooms at CFCC would be allowed under the new law.

Copyright 2016 WECT. The Associated Press contributed material to this report.