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Obama administration: ‘Give up privacy or give up funding,’ NC families, students sue

ADF challenges lawless federal actions that could force women, girls to share locker rooms with men nationwide
Published On: 10/18/2017

Attorney sound bite:  Kellie Fiedorek




RALEIGH, N.C. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing students and parents at North Carolina public schools and universities filed suit Tuesday against the U.S. departments of Justice and Education for making federal student aid and educational funding dependent on students sharing restrooms and locker rooms with the opposite sex. The suit is similar to one ADF filed against the two agencies on behalf of parents and students in Illinois last week.

The DOJ disregarded student privacy and safety when it issued letters threatening the suspension of federal funding for North Carolina’s schools and university system, as well as federal financial aid for North Carolina’s university students, unless the state government repudiated the law known as House Bill 2. That law ensures that government facilities and public schools protect personal privacy by maintaining sex-specific restrooms, locker rooms, and showers. The DOJ then filed suit against the state on Monday, the same day that the governor and the General Assembly each sued the agency over its illegitimate demands.

“The administration shouldn’t condition the ability of women to receive an education on their willingness to shower with members of the opposite sex,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “On behalf of North Carolina students and families—and by extension all students and families across the nation affected by the DOJ’s and DOE’s overreach—we have filed suit to stop both agencies from bullying schools and universities. The agencies must stop using falsehoods about what federal law requires to threaten student access to educational opportunities and financial assistance.”

The DOJ’s and DOE’s actions jeopardize approximately $1.4 billion dollars in federal funding for North Carolina’s universities, approximately $800 million dollars in federal financial aid to North Carolina’s students, and federal funding provided to all elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the state. As the ADF lawsuit points out, however, the agencies have no authority to do this.

The DOJ bases its threat and its lawsuit on its inaccurate interpretation of Title IX, a 1972 federal law that, contrary to the agency’s opinion, specifically states that a school receiving federal funds can “provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex” without putting that funding at risk. The ADF lawsuit explains that the DOJ and DOE are both unlawfully redefining the terms of Title IX, something that only Congress can alter, and are illegitimately forcing their political will on all public bodies across the nation. No federal law requires schools to allow boys into girls’ restrooms or girls into boys’ restrooms, and five courts have rejected the agencies’ interpretation of Title IX.

“No government agency can unilaterally redefine the meaning of a federal law to serve its own political ends,” explained ADF Legal Counsel Kellie Fiedorek. “The departments of Justice and Education are exceeding what they are legally allowed to do. It’s ironic that laws from the 1960s and 70s that were enacted to combat sexual harassment and discrimination by men against women are now being used against women, specifically by letting men use women’s showers and locker rooms against their will.”

The lawsuit, North Carolinians for Privacy v. United States Department of Justice, asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division, to declare that the DOJ and DOE exceeded their authority by redefining “sex” in Title IX, and that federal law does not forbid sex-specific restrooms and locker rooms. Liberty, Life, and Law Foundation attorney Deborah Dewart, one of more than 3,000 private attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel in the case.

Fiedorek is available for media interviews in Raleigh, and ADF Legal Communications Director Kerri Kupec is available for media interviews in Washington, D.C. Tedesco and other ADF attorneys are also available.


  • Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-koh), Fiedorek (Fuh-DOHR’-eck), Kupec (CUE’-peck)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.


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