Attorney General James Fights To Protect Transgender Students’ Rights

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

Leading a coalition of 20 attorneys general, Attorney General James filed an amicus brief in the case of Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools, opposing the plaintiffs’ efforts to bar transgender students from participating in gender-segregated school sports.

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“Attacks on transgender students are a violation of their rights and simply will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General James. “When we adopt inclusive policies that honor every individual’s rights with dignity, we create a fairer, more just, and more prosperous society for all. The law does not discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and I will do everything in my power to fight for equal protection under the law for every community.”

The brief — filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit — argue for the court to reject a lawsuit brought by four cisgender students who claim that the participation of transgender students in gender-segregated sports violates the rights of cisgender girls. The suit was filed after the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference implemented a policy that allows transgender students to participate in gender-segregated sports according to their gender identity.

Attorney General James leads the coalition of attorneys general in arguing that, contrary to the plaintiffs’ claims, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 does not bar transgender female students from participating in gender-segregated sports according to their gender identity. Additionally, the experiences of amici states show that policies that strive to include transgender people — including policies allowing transgender students to participate in athletic activities consistent with their gender identity — confer significant individual and societal benefits.

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Attorney General James has repeatedly fought for the rights of transgender individuals. In December 2020, Attorney General James co-led a multi-state coalition in submitting an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in support of a challenge to an Idaho law that barred female transgender students from participating in any public school or public university-sponsored female sports. 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. And, in February 2019, Attorney General James co-led a coalition of attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the case Adams v. St. Johns County School Board in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, where the coalition argued in support of a transgender student who was being discriminated against by his local school board.

Joining Attorney General James in filing the brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The amicus brief was prepared by Assistant Solicitor General Mark Grube, Deputy Solicitor General Anisha S. Dasgupta, and Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood — all of the Division for Appeals and Opinions.

Photo credit: vigil for a slain transgender woman.

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