North Carolina

LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in the States

North Carolina
No Statewide LGBT Non-Discrimination Protections
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LGBTQ Nondiscrimination in North Carolina:

There are currently no explicit, comprehensive statewide nondiscrimination protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people in North Carolina. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited in public employment only.

The Latest on LGBTQ Nondiscrimination in North Carolina:

State and national advocates are working toward furthering the conversation of why nondiscrimination protections matter in North Carolina.

Much of the focus of the conversation in the state – and nationally – has stemmed from North Carolina’s House Bill 2 – one of the most extreme anti-LGBT laws in the nation, which was introduced, passed, and signed in just 10 hours in March 2016. The law stripped away local LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances, like one passed in Charlotte in 2016, and prohibited transgender North Carolinians from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

On May 4, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice declared that HB 2 violated Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination, a ruling that threatened federal education funding in North Carolina. Several lawsuits were filed, challenging HB2 in federal court.

With the ouster of Governor Pat McCrory in 2016, newly elected Governor Roy Cooper signed HB 142 in March 2017, which repealed HB 2. However, the new legislation still does not address discrimination against transgender people in bathrooms; indeed, it puts a moratorium on nondiscrimination ordinances through 2020, and leaves regulation of bathrooms, showers and changing facilities to state lawmakers, not the local school systems, universities, community colleges and other state agencies that had been setting their own policies.

On December 1, 2020 HB 142 expired, allowing municipalities the ability to pass their own local nondiscrimination ordinances.

History of Non-Discrimination Protections:

  • February 22, 2016: Charlotte passes a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT residents from discrimination in places of public accommodation. The ordinance is similar to policies or laws currently in place in 17 states and more than 200 cities and towns across the country.
  • March 23, 2016: The North Carolina General Assembly calls a special session one month before the regular legislative session. Within 10 hours, the General Assembly introduces the anti-LGBT House Bill 2, passes it through both chambers of the assembly, and sends the legislation to Governor Pat McCrory, who signs the bill into law. The law strips away local LGBT non-discrimination ordinances, like one passed in Charlotte this year, and prohibits transgender North Carolinians from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity.
  • March–June 2016: Unprecedented national outrage follows the passage of HB2, with businesses pulling investment from North Carolina, the entertainment industry moving scheduled projects, entertainers canceling concerts and appearances, and lawsuits being filed to bring a halt to the rampant discrimination. In many ways, HB2 galvanized movement against discrimination, crystallizing the reality that discrimination against the LGBT community is still very real and very dangerous – and very much in need of correction.
  • April 12, 2016: Governor McCrory, in a narrow attempt to recover from the turmoil he brought to his state by signing HB2 into law, issues an executive order granting, for the first time in NC, employment protections for LGBT state employees. The executive order, of course, does nothing to fix the egregious attacks of HB2 (in fact, the order doubles down on some of the worst elements of the law).
  • May 4, 2016: The U.S. Department of Justice notifies Governor McCrory that HB 2 violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as Title IX. Governor McCrory and the state of North Carolina file a lawsuit, which is countered by the Department of Justice. 
  • June 2016: State and national advocates are working toward furthering the conversation of why non-discrimination protections matter in North Carolina – and fighting to repeal HB2.
  • November 8, 2016: Pat McCrory is defeated by Roy Cooper in the gubernatorial election, but only by a margin of 4,500 votes. McCrory files for a recount on November 22, but when it becomes clear the margin will not change, he concedes the election on December 5.
  • March 30, 2017: The House and Senate both approve passage of HB 142, which repeals the controversial HB 2, but puts a moratorium on nondiscrimination ordinances until 2020, and puts decisions regarding access to restrooms and locker rooms by transgender people in the hands of lawmakers, not local municipalities or businesses which had been enforcing their own policies.
  • December 1, 2020HB 142 expires, which will allow NC municipalities to create and pass their own local nondiscrimination ordinances.


Municipalities with Non-Discrimination Protections:

The following municipalities protect people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity

Last Updated January 05, 2021

Active Litigation

Kadel v. Folwell

Case Concerning Discrimination in Health Care

Key Date: March 11, 2019 • Initial Complaint Filed
Status: Pending before District Court
Legal Team: Lambda Legal & TLDEF
Type: Public Accommodations Discrimination

Kadel v. Folwell is a case filed by Lambda Legal and TLDEF on behalf of North Carolina public employees, some who are transgender and others who are the family members of transgender people.

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Carcaño v. Cooper

Case Challenging Anti-LGBTQ Legislation in North Carolina

Key Date: June 25, 2018 • Hearing on Pending Motions
Status: Pending before District Court
Legal Team: ACLU, ACLU of NC, Lambda Legal
Type: Anti-LGBT Laws

While the lawsuit initially targeted House Bill 2, plaintiffs in the case are now targeting HB142, a similarly anti-LGBTQ law passed in April 2017, under the guise of being a "repeal" of HB2.

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