By Ashley Fantz
The Oxford, Alabama, City Council has overturned an ordinance that could have sent transgender people to jail for using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
The council voted 3-2 Wednesday to repeal it, according to CNN affiliate WBRC-TV in Birmingham. The meeting area was packed to capacity in the small northeast Alabama city of about 21,000, with at least 100 people for the debate on the measure, the TV station said.
Council member Charlotte Hubbard said her qualms with the measure were chiefly about its likely violation of Title IX, a concern Oxford’s city attorney raised.
Title IX, passed in 1972, prohibits discrimination based on sex in schools that receive federal funding.
In April, a Virginia transgender teen, who was born a girl but identifies as a boy, won a fight against his school board for the right to use the boys’ bathroom. A federal appeals court ruled the school board had violated Title IX by banning the teen from the boys’ bathroom.
In North Carolina, there’s been much discussion over possible legal challenges over the state’s new law prohibiting transgender people from using public restrooms that match the gender with which they identify.
The U.S. Justice Department has notified North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and university system leaders that the state’s transgender law violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act.
McCrory and other state officials are already facing a federal lawsuit over the bathroom measure. Two transgender men, a lesbian, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina want a judge to declare the law unconstitutional and a violation of federal laws banning sex discrimination.
Last week, the Oxford City Council voted unanimously to enact the ordinance, making it a misdemeanor for transgender men to use the men’s restroom and transgender women to use the women’s restroom. Violation of the law meant a fine and a jail sentence up to six months.
Oxford’s mayor never signed the measure because he has been ill, said council President Steven Waits, WBRC reports.
Equal rights groups blasted Oxford’s attempt to block transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice and praised the reversal of the measure.
“The Oxford City Council did the right thing by recalling its discriminatory ordinance,” said Chinyere Ezie, a staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. “We are pleased the council members came to the conclusion that nobody should be criminalized simply for using the restroom.”
“More good news! Anti-transgender ordinance in Oxford, Alabama is no more,” the ACLU tweeted Wednesday.
Both organizations had demanded the repeal of the ordinance.
Human Rights Campaign, which promotes equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, hailed the repeal as a “welcome message of inclusion to Oxford’s families, businesses and visitors, and sets an example for other communities that may be considering similar legislation.”
CNN’s Dani Stewart contributed to this report.