Chase Strangio, an attorney representing high school student Gavin Grimm, said Thursday that his client and other transgender people will not acquiesce to second-class citizenship if his team ultimately loses their landmark transgender rights case in the Supreme Court.
Grimm is challenging his local school board’s policy regarding transgender bathroom use in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. — arguing that the policy violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibit sex discrimination. The school board’s policy requires transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their biological sex as designated at birth rather than gender identity.
Strangio, who is a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & AIDS project, led a teleconference Thursday to draw attention to the increasing number of supporters filing friend-of-the-court briefs with the Supreme Court. The ACLU expects thousands of supporters from communities across the U.S. to urge the court to reinforce the rights of transgender students and guarantee equal treatment under the law.
“People have figured out that it is not a big deal. It is not scary to include trans people in public life. Trans people are thriving in all aspects of society,” Strangio said. “People are weighing in to tell the court that standing with Gavin and ruling for trans rights is not only the legally sound thing to do but the just thing to do and something that the country is ready for.”
The ACLU expects a great breadth of organizations and individuals to file amicus briefs — legal documents filed by nonlitigants with a serious interest in the issue — throughout the day: medical associations, unions, artists, doctors, lawyers, scientists, government employees and others. The Equality Federation, Apple, IBM, eBay, Microsoft, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the cities of New York and San Francisco, the National LGBT Bar Association and the Constitutional Accountability Center are among those who have already signed briefs.
The ACLU told Yahoo News it is expecting at least 17 briefs.
In a statement, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “Every student deserves to feel safe and welcome in their school, regardless of their gender identity. Access to bathrooms and other essential facilities is a fundamental human right that should not be restricted or denied to anyone. New York City has long been a leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality, and we are proud to stand with transgender and gender nonconforming people across the country in the fight against discrimination.”
Yahoo News asked Strangio what kind of recourse this patchwork of pro-transgender-rights organizations might have to keep fighting for equality if the Supreme Court ultimately sides with the Gloucester County School Board.
“We’re hopeful and optimistic that we’ll have a favorable outcome for Gavin and for trans students across the country,” he replied. “No matter what, there’s a lot of ways to organize young people, trans students and trans individuals to enforce their rights.”
Strangio noted that constitutional questions regarding the rights of trans individuals are still being litigated in the courts.
“No matter what happens,” he continued, “nobody is going back into the shadows. Nobody is going to stop fighting, and there’ll be many avenues for public and social change, as well as legal relief for the trans community.”
Brandon Adams, a transgender high school student from Framingham, Mass., and his father, Jonathan Eber, also signed amicus briefs in support of Grimm.
On the conference call, Eber said all parents, including him, want what is best for their children. Eber said he could not be more proud of Brandon and has learned how to advocate for his son throughout his journey.
“As a dad, I just viscerally react to attacks against my son. My job is to protect Brandon. My job is to protect and make sure that Brandon is raised to the best of my ability, that Brandon is a decent and kind human being that cares for others,” he said.
Brandon said his middle school denied him access to the male students’ bathroom and hopes the Grimm case would make a strong statement about tolerance on the federal level.
“I would just say, ‘Think as if it were your kid going through a transition or a family member. Would you support them?’” he said.
Social conservatives generally argue that allowing transgender women into women’s restrooms is essentially allowing full-grown men into women’s restrooms. They contend that this places women and girls in danger, though crime data does not back up that claim.
The case comes amid a passionate national debate over transgender bathroom rights. North Carolina recently ignited a firestorm that led some organizations to boycott the state when it passed its own so-called bathroom bill requiring people to use public buildings’ facilities that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate.
And on Feb. 22, President Trump sparked an LGBT-rights uproar when he rescinded former President Barack Obama’s Title IX guidelines that instructed public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender identities.
According to the ACLU, the Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. case “will be one of the biggest LGBTQ rights cases in history.”
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