Trial over LGBT House Bill 2 delayed until late next summer

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal trial on the legality of a North Carolina law limiting which restrooms transgender people can use in schools and government buildings has been pushed back until at least late summer.

A U.S. magistrate judge granted the delay Monday following a conference call with attorneys for people challenging the law and for North Carolina officials defending what’s known as House Bill 2, according to a court filing.

The trial was supposed to begin Monday. In September, Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake granted a delay until next May because the U.S. Supreme Court was considering whether to hear a Virginia case on transgender restroom access. She extended the delay another 90 days.

Attorneys from opposing sides in the North Carolina case wrote Peake last week supporting an even longer delay because the justices have since agreed to take up the Virginia matter. The justices’ ultimate ruling could shape the outcome of the House Bill 2 litigation.

A U.S. District Court judge also hearing the North Carolina litigation ordered in August the transgender plaintiffs be allowed to use restrooms aligned with their gender identity at University of North Carolina campuses where they worked or studied.

Judge Thomas Schroeder’s preliminary injunction, however, did not cover all transgender people in the state. So the plaintiffs recently asked an appeals court to expand Schroeder’s injunction. Attorneys for North Carolina Republican leaders asked the appeals court to delay a decision until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules.

GOP Gov. Pat McCrory and lawmakers have defended the bathroom provisions as providing privacy and safety by keeping men out of women’s restrooms. Those who sued call the law discriminatory. House Bill 2 also limits local and state anti-discrimination laws for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

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The version corrects the pronoun used for the judge. She extended the delay another 90 days.