Local Brewery Adopts Gender Neutral Bathrooms, Pro-Equality Groups File Lawsuit

Published Monday, March 28, 2016 at 12:58 pm

By Jesse Wood

In response to the new North Carolina law requiring transgender people to use public bathrooms aligning with their birth gender, Lost Province Brewing Co. announced on Friday that it changed its bathrooms to gender neutral.

In a Facebook post on Friday evening, Lost Province Brewing Co. posted a picture announcing the change with the caption: “Enough said.” This post was liked about 2,000 times and shared more than 1,200 times.

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Lost Province posted this picture to its Facebook page on Friday.

“We felt like we needed to make a statement,” Lost Province Brewing Co. owner Lynne Mason said on Monday. “To begin with we are an equal opportunity employer … and this just goes hand in hand with our philosophy.”

Mason said that the company initially considered gender-neutral bathrooms when opening the restaurant and brewery in the summer of 2014 but opted not to.

“When they passed this new law, it became a good opportunity to make that transition,” Mason said.

The Republican led N.C. General Assembly passed the bill (which was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCory) last week in response to a LGBT non-discrimination bathroom ordinance that the Charlotte City Council passed in February. The state law supersedes any local ordinances, including the Charlotte ordinance, on this particular matter.

McCrory has called the new law a “common sense” privacy protection. In a “Myths v. Facts” Q&A, McCrory’s office noted that businesses and private facilities may offer “reasonable accommodations” for transgender people such as single-occupancy, gender neutral bathrooms similar to what Lost Province Brewing Co. is now doing.

This is an admittedly symbolic gesture on the part of Lost Province Brewing Co. Their bathrooms are single-occupancy bathrooms and supporters of the new law cited privacy and safety concerns of people of the opposite sex being in the same bathroom at the same time under Charlotte’s ordinance.

In a prior statement, McCrory said that the Charlotte law “defies common sense and basic community norms by allowing, for example, a man to use a woman’s bathroom, shower or locker room.”

Immediately following passage of the law, pro-equality groups noted that they were exploring legal options and called the bill a “sweeping anti-LGBT measure.” On Monday, these groups – Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, and Equality North Carolina – announced that they had filed a federal lawsuit challenging the North Carolina law.

“We’re challenging this extreme and discriminatory measure in order to ensure that everyone who lives in and visits North Carolina is protected under the law,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “This cruel, insulting, and unconstitutional law is an attack on fairness in employment, education, and local governance that encourages discrimination against thousands of LGBT people who call North Carolina home, and particularly targets transgender men and women. HB 2 aims to override local school board policies, local public accommodations laws, and more.”

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