AG Shapiro, 22 Other Attorneys General File Amicus Brief in Transgender Discrimination Case

December 2, 2019 | Topic: Rights

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro and a coalition of 22 other Attorneys General are standing up for transgender rights by filing an amicus brief supporting an anti-discrimination lawsuit against the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia.

Gavin Grimm, a former student at Gloucester High School, sued the local school board in 2015 — when he was still a student — for discrimination that banned him from using the common male restrooms at his high school. The coalition filed an amicus brief in the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in support of Grimm in the case of Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board.  

“Discrimination for any reason is an offensive way to treat another human being, and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General is lending its voice and legal might to this important case to make sure transgender people have the right to basic human services,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, who noted there are an estimated 44,000 Pennsylvanians who are transgender.

In a 2015 U.S. Transgender Amicus Brief of Pennsylvania residents, 77 percent of those who were perceived as transgender at some point between kindergarten and 12th grade said they experienced verbal harassment, being prohibited from dressing according to their gender identity, were disciplined more harshly than others, or were physically or sexually assaulted because people thought they were transgender.

Twelve percent of the Pennsylvania respondents faced such severe mistreatment as a transgender person that they left a K–12 school.

Grimm not only sued to challenge the Gloucester County School Board’s policy of banning him from using the common male restrooms at his high school, but also the board’s refusal to update his educational records to correspond with his updated birth certificate that reflects his male gender. The federal district court in Virginia ruled in Grimm’s favor in August 2019, finding that the school board’s actions discriminated against Grimm on the basis of his sex in violation of Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The coalition of attorneys general — led by New York Attorney General Letitia James and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson — argue, first and foremost, that transgender individuals have the right “to live with dignity, be free from discrimination, and have equal access to education, employment, housing, public accommodations, and other necessities of life.”

They also argue that policies that prevent transgender individuals from using gender-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity cause stigma, isolation, and exclusion. The brief highlights how policies that allow students and members of the public to use gender-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity promote safe and inclusive communities, workplaces, and schools, and benefit the people of the states without harming personal privacy or safety interests, or without incurring any substantial costs.

Finally, the brief highlights that the school board’s restroom policy preventing transgender people from using common restrooms consistent with their gender identity and its refusal to update Grimm’s school records do nothing to further legitimate governmental interests and only serve to stigmatize transgender persons in violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

Nearly 1.5 million people in the United States — including approximately 150,000 teenagers — currently identify as transgender.

AG Shapiro joins the Attorneys General of New York, Washington, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia in filing the brief.

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