The University of North Carolina system said on Friday that it would not seek to enforce a controversial state law requiring transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificates. The Associated Press reported that Margaret Spellings, the system’s president, said in a legal filing that “I have no intent to exercise my authority to promulgate any guidelines or regulations that require transgender students to use the restrooms consistent with their biological sex.”
Ms. Spellings, who said in April that the new state law had sent “a chill” through the university, has been caught in the middle of dueling lawsuits over the legislation, known as HB2.
In previous comments, she noted that “the university has no independent power to change” state laws. But the U.S. Justice Department has declared the law a violation of federal civil-rights statutes, and the agency filed a lawsuit, in which the UNC system is a defendant, seeking to have HB2 overturned. State officials, including the governor and the House and Senate leaders, all Republicans, have taken legal action of their own to defend the law.
Ms. Spellings’s comments on Friday appeared in an affidavit that was part of a legal filing that sought to delay federal court proceedings against the university system. In the filing, lawyers for the system noted that HB2 has no enforcement mechanism, the AP reported. The lawyers also stated that UNC had not changed “any of its policies or practices regarding transgender students or employees.”
Correction (6/27/2016, 12:17 p.m.): This post originally misstated a provision of the new law. It requires people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates, not their gender at birth. Birth certificates can be amended. The text has been corrected.