Attorney General James Fights To Protect Transgender Students’ Rights

August 3, 2022

New York Attorney General Letitia James took legal action to protect transgender students’ rights.

Co-leading a coalition of 22 attorneys general, Attorney General James filed an amicus brief in the case of A.C. v. Metropolitan School District of Martinsville opposing the school district’s efforts to bar a transgender male student from using the boys’ bathroom.

The student, A.C., was forced to use a single-sex restroom located in the school’s medical clinic rather than be allowed to use any of the boys’ restrooms throughout the school.

“Attacking the rights of transgender students is an attack on our basic values and constitutional rights, and that cannot be tolerated,” said Attorney General James. “By empowering individuals through inclusive policies and respect, we help create a more equitable society and ensure everyone is able to realize their full potential, free of discrimination. I will continue to stand up and fight against efforts to strip away rights and refuse to accept people who for they truly are.”

The brief — filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit — argues for the court to affirm a lower court ruling requiring the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville, Indiana to allow A.C. to use the boys’ bathroom.

The coalition of attorneys general note that preventing a transgender student from using a school restroom consistent with the student’s gender identity violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by denying transgender boys and girls access to the same common restrooms that other boys and girls may use.

The amicus brief also demonstrates that inclusive policies that maintain sex-segregated spaces while permitting transgender people to use a facility that aligns with their gender identity help to ease the stigma transgender people often experience, with positive effects for their educational and health outcomes.

The brief also notes that over 1.6 million people in the United States, including approximately 300,000 youth between the ages of 13 and 17, identify as transgender.

Despite these Americans’ significant contributions to their communities, they unfortunately often experience discrimination that limits their ability to realize their potential and that transgender youth experience levels of discrimination, violence, and harassment that exceed those experienced by their cisgender counterparts.

The attorneys general’s amicus brief demonstrates that protecting transgender people from discrimination yields broad benefits without compromising privacy or safety, and that nondiscriminatory restroom policies produce important benefits and pose no safety concerns.

Attorney General James has repeatedly fought for the rights of transgender individuals. In November 2021, Attorney General James co-led a coalition of 23 attorneys general in challenging a Florida School District’s policy to prohibit transgender students from using bathrooms which corresponded with their gender identity.

In October 2021, Attorney General James led a multi-state coalition of attorneys general to support transgender students seeking to participate in sex-segregated school sports consistent with their gender identity.

Additionally, in November 2019, Attorney General James successfully co-led a coalition of attorneys general in the fight to support the rights of transgender students to use bathrooms in line with their gender identity in the case Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Joining Attorney General James in filing the brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The amicus brief was prepared by Assistant Solicitor General Mark Grube, Assistant Deputy Solicitor General Andrew W. Amend, Deputy Solicitor General Judith N. Vale, and Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood — all of the Division of Appeals and Opinions.

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