NYC And San Francisco File Brief On Behalf Of Transgender Students

March 3, 2017

The de Blasio Administration today announced that New York City, in collaboration with the City and County of San Francisco, and together with a coalition of 29 other municipalities across the nation, has submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the plaintiff in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. The plaintiff, a transgender teenage boy, challenges a school board’s policy requiring students to use the restrooms corresponding to their “biological genders.” He argues that the policy violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law barring sex discrimination by schools that receive federal education funding, because it prohibits him from using the school restrooms consistent with his gender identity.

“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 non-conforming people across the country in the fight against discrimination,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Every day, New Yorkers who identify as transgender are burdened with worry and uncertainty that they will not have the privacy for personal needs that most New Yorkers take for granted. That is not acceptable – especially when it comes to our young people. I will not stop fighting for transgender New Yorkers. It is the right thing to do and we must stand up for the rights of others, just as we safeguard our own,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Chair of the Commission on Gender Equity.

“Transgender individuals are our neighbors, constituents, family and friends, and their exercise of personal freedoms only makes New York City stronger,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Under the current federal administration, these targeted attacks on the rights of transgender persons have gained a renewed legitimacy across the country. This cannot continue, and I am proud to stand with San Francisco and dozens of other municipalities in speaking out and fighting back against these abhorrent practices. We at the City Council have consistently worked to advance the rights of our transgender residents – because everyone deserves to feel safe in public spaces, whether that is in a park or a bathroom, and especially in a school.”

City Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter said, “New York and other cities have adopted local laws that guarantee transgender students the right to use the restrooms consistent with their gender identity. And despite the claims made by the school board and its supporters in this case, these inclusive policies embodied in local laws have lowered barriers to equal educational opportunity for transgender students, strengthened our school communities, and made all students safer. But history teaches that the imprimatur of federal law in enforcing fundamental civil rights is separately important and the federal government should continue to play its traditional role in protecting the civil rights of transgender students.”

“Everyone deserves the right to use the bathroom or single-sex facility consistent with their gender identity, no questions asked,” said Chair and Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights, Carmelyn P. Malalis. “I’m proud to lead the City agency that enforces New York City’s strong anti-discrimination law protecting transgender and gender non-conforming individuals’ right to use restrooms free from discrimination. But not everyone in this country has such strong protections, which is why the U.S. Supreme Court should interpret Title IX to protect students’ right to be who they are and use the restroom consistent with their gender identity, free from discrimination.”

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said, “Students must be provided with a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment so that they can feel comfortable at school and focus on learning. In New York City public schools, that includes allowing students to use facilities that align with their gender identity and affirming their preferred pronouns – these are basic supports that all students nationwide should have. ”

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The brief describes the experiences of New York City, San Francisco and other municipalities over the many years that they have had in place laws and policies protecting transgender individuals from discrimination – focusing in particular on laws and policies permitting transgender individuals in schools and other settings to use the restrooms and other single-sex facilities consistent with their gender identity.

The brief explains that policies granting transgender individuals equal access to these facilities:

  • Work well in practice. New York City, San Francisco and other jurisdictions allow transgender individuals to use the restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity in nearly all public settings. Their experiences with these policies have been overwhelmingly positive, both for transgender individuals and others, and the policies have proven easy to administer.
  • Enhance public safety. These policies protect transgender individuals from harassment and violence when they use public facilities. The amici municipalities know firsthand that the public-safety alarms sounded by opponents of these policies are unfounded. Amici’s experiences are consistent with the judgments of police departments around the country that these policies have not resulted in more incidents of sexual assault or voyeurism.
  • Increase privacy for all. Many municipalities encourage or require that reasonable alternative arrangements be provided, such as single-stall restrooms, to anyone on request, whether or not they are transgender. Increased privacy is particularly beneficial for adolescent students who may struggle with their body image.
  • Remove barriers to participation in society for transgender individuals. Transgender individuals are among the most vulnerable and marginalized members of society. Without these inclusive policies, even the simple act of using a public restroom can expose a transgender individual to harassment, violence, or even arrest. This risk threatens transgender individuals’ well-being and confronts them with a continual message of exclusion. Policies guaranteeing equal access play an important role in breaking down barriers to transgender individuals’ participation in society.

The entire brief can be found here.

“I thank Mayor de Blasio for submitting an amicus brief on behalf of our city that stands for the civil rights of all students, regardless of their gender identity. We are One Brooklyn, united against the harassment of our sons and daughters. Public facilities, such as restrooms, that are sensitive to gender identity concerns help advance our communities forward as safer places to raise healthy children and families,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “I’m proud of New York City for standing up for transgender students and against despicable attempts to discriminate against them. Title IX should protect every student’s right to have a secure and safe school environment.”

“Despite last week’s egregious and dangerous actions by the Trump-Pence Administration, New York is committed to continuing to protect transgender and gender non-conforming students. Under the Dignity for All Students Act, all New York State students are guaranteed a right to education free from discrimination, harassment and bullying based on real or perceived gender, gender expression or gender identity. I thank the Mayor for his participation in a national amicus brief in support of transgender students everywhere. We will continue to work on every level to ensure all students are awarded just protections,” said Assembly Member Deborah J. Glick.

Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell said, “When I sponsored New York’s anti-bullying law, the Dignity for All Students Act, I was steadfast about including protections for transgender students. We are currently facing a public health crisis, with statistics showing that 45 percent of trans people attempt suicide by the age of 24. For trans individuals who are harassed, that statistic increases to 52 percent; for those who are physically assaulted, it rises to 68 percent. While I have fundamental differences with Education Secretary DeVos on many issues, I agree with her statement that schools have a moral obligation to protect students from discrimination, bullying, and harassment. Progressive policy is the first step in signaling to administrators, teachers, and students that trans rights must be respected.”

Assemblyman Matthew Titone said, “This is not only a question of human rights but of plain common sense. Growing up is hard enough as it is, and we should not make it harder for transgender youth by forcing them to try and fit into a narrow construct that does not reflect reality. If certain people are unknowledgeable around issues of gender identity, it is incumbent on them to learn. Surely compassion should outweigh ignorance.”

Council Member Rosie Mendez, Chair of the LGBT Caucus, said, “I am very proud that New York City is joining 30 other municipalities to stand up for the rights of our transgender school children. School children should be in a supportive learning environment and for transgender kids that means that they should also have the right to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity. Going to the bathroom is a necessity, and it is cruel to force kids to enter a bathroom with a gender that they don’t identify with.”

Council Majority Leader Van Bramer said, “In New York City, we know through experience that enacting inclusive laws and policies protecting transgender people from discrimination has enhanced public safety and privacy for all. I’m proud to join with the City of New York and these 30 other municipalities in calling on the Supreme Court to rule in favor of this transgender student who simply wants to use the restroom consistent with his gender identity.”

“The discrimination that this plaintiff faces every day is unlawful and un-American,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “We cannot and we will not stand by silently while the civil rights of transgender students are being rolled back. New York City aims to be a leader in inclusivity and respect for all, and I thank Mayor de Blasio for filing this important amicus brief.”

Council Member Carlos Menchaca said, “Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are entitled to the same rights and protections guaranteed to everyone. I’m proud New York City is leading national efforts to protect students at school. Once again, local governments are taking the lead defending vulnerable people from senseless federal attacks. When we uphold anti-discrimination laws, we fulfill our promise to defend both public safety and the constitution. Who you are and your gender identity should never be barriers to basic human rights.”

“Schools are supposed to be a safe space for students,” said Council Member James Vacca. “It’s absolutely deplorable that we have entities in this country attempting to institute blatant discrimination based on one’s gender identity. There has been a concerted effort among bigots to attack the rights of transgender youth. Only cowards attack children. We must stand up and protect rights, not legalize discrimination.”

“Working directly with Transgender communities of color we have seen firsthand the impact these bathroom protections have had on our community. New York has set an example that these protections are necessary and can be implemented successfully. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for his progressive leadership and to our friends at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund for fighting for the protections of all transgender people,” said Sean Coleman, Board Member of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and Executive Director, Destination Tomorrow.

“The first responsibility of government is to protect our kids. That means creating environments where all children feel welcome to be who they are. TransPAC applauds the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio and cities across the country for taking this crucial stand for our youth,” said Mel Wymore, Executive Director of TransPAC.

“It is incredibly important for the jurisdictions that stand in support of Gavin and all trans and gender non-conforming students to treat this issue seriously. Trans and gender non-conforming students, especially those who are young people of color, are disproportionately targeted for school disciplinary infractions as well as being targets of bullying and harassment. When jurisdictions don’t stand up and support the dignity and humanity of these students, it sends a message that they are unwanted and it furthers the school-to-prison pipeline for trans and gender non-conforming youth,” said Mik Kinkead, Director of Prisoner Justice Project and Staff Attorney at Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

Christina Herrera of Translatina Network said, “The transgender and gender non confirming community deserves to be welcomed, loved and supported throughout their lives. We have a responsibility to ensure that every student can have access to all facilities within their school. This includes being able to use restrooms that align with their gender identity. Our young people need to be protected from discrimination no matter what.

“The New York City Anti-Violence Project commends the City of New York and all 29 municipalities across the nation that submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the plaintiff in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. Transgender students face disproportionate violence in our schools. We need to protect transgender people at all stages. For youth, who are especially vulnerable, bullying, family rejection and other forms of violence have a profound impact on the rest of their lives. All students deserve safe environments in which to learn and grow,” said Beverly Tillery, Executive Director of New York City Anti-Violence Project.

“It is unconscionable that schools and politicians would seek to put our nation’s young people in danger, but they have. We are grateful that New York City is standing with Gavin Grimm and against those who would perpetuate anti-trans fear. We are proud of New York City and all of the municipalities who are standing up for Gavin and all trans and gender non-conforming youth. New York knows from experience that respecting and supporting trans and gender non-conforming students is best for everyone,” said Gabriel Blau, Co-Founder of Equality NY.

“I yearn for a day when every young person is able to grow up in the United States without being subjected to legalized discrimination. I applaud Gavin Grimm for fighting back against the degradation he was subjected to in his school, and for his courageous stand on behalf of the transgender youths of our country, and I applaud Mayor de Blasio for taking a stand to protect transgender students,” said Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of Ali Forney Center.

“The Trevor Project stands with Gavin Grimm and the thousands of transgender young people across our nation who struggle every day to simply live their lives. Research has shown a high correlation between transgender young people being denied the right to use the appropriate bathroom and suicidality. In order to protect youth and save lives we call on the Supreme Court to finally settle this Title IX issue and reaffirm the lower court’s ruling,” said Steve Mendelsohn, Interim Executive Director of The Trevor Project.

“In a time when transgender rights are in serious danger, we applaud Mayor de Blasio for standing up and submitting an amicus brief with this coalition in support of Gavin Grimm,” said Glennda Testone, Executive Director of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. “The Center, the City and many others have worked for years to make our home a place of equality, and submitting this amicus brief to the Supreme Court is exactly the kind of action we must to take to ensure that progress towards dignified and fair treatment for our transgender brothers and sisters continues across the country.”

“Garden State Equality commends Mayor Bill de Blasio’s public support for the rights of all transgender individuals and for joining in an amicus brief supporting trans rights in the Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. case. Here in the “sixth borough,” New Jersey, we are fortunate to have a state law, the Law Against Discrimination, which protects all transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, and in particular our children, against discrimination and allows them to use public facilities consistent with their gender identity or expression. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will enforce Title IX to ensure all trans students nationwide are afforded similar protections that we have here in the beautiful and welcoming New York metropolitan area,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality.

“Transgender kids are among the most vulnerable people in society. These special young people face higher rates of depression, harassment and violence which is why it’s so important for our schools to become a safe harbor. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and our City for standing on the side of justice and equality,” said Alan van Capelle, CEO and President of Educational Alliance.

“GMHC stands with Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming individuals in their quest for equality. The ability to utilize bathrooms that are consistent with one’s gender identity must be a protected human right as this right reduces the risk of violence and bias motivated crimes which the trans community – especially students – historically face,” said Kelsey Louie, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

Manny Rivera, Co-Chairperson of the NYC EQUALITY LGBT Coalition, said, “Very often our transgender and gender non-conforming young people stand alone. Thus, we are extremely pleased and proud that our Mayor Bill de Blasio is utilizing his position to give voice to countless Transgender students who already suffer many other forms of discrimination that negativity impacts their spirit and ability to learn within our schools. The ability to use a bathroom consistent with their gender identity, should be an automatic right, not another obstacle to young people obtaining a quality education.”

“We have seen firsthand that lack of bathroom access causes bladder infections and other health risks. The daily stress from stigma, discrimination and intolerance in navigating safe bathroom access leads to poorer health. Restroom access is a public health issue and should be treated as such,” said Wendy Stark, Executive Director of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. “We applaud Mayor de Blasio and his colleagues across the country for filing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the plaintiff in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G and standing in support of transgender people who need and deserve access to safe bathrooms.”

Rose Christ, President of Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC, said, “The importance of this case cannot be overstated, especially in light of recent federal actions that clearly demonstrate the Trump-Pence Administration’s blatant disregard for the rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Confirming students. We thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership and the entire coalition for fighting to ensure our nation’s LGBT students are not denied their rightful protections under Title IX and existing federal laws.”

“For nearly 30 years, GLSEN has partnered with districts and schools across the country to improve the lives of LGBTQ students and demonstrate how safe, supportive and inclusive K-12 schools can transform the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming youth,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director. “Our longstanding partnership with New York City’s schools has allowed us to develop and evaluate effective policy and programmatic responses to the needs of this highly at-risk group of students, and show what is possible when schools do the right thing and address stigma and discrimination. In New York City and throughout the states with transgender protections and the tens of thousands of schools nationwide that followed through on the previous administration’s trans-inclusive Title IX guidance, we have seen what happens when transgender youth are free to be themselves: no one is harmed and transgender students benefit immeasurably. GLSEN is thankful for the leadership in New York City who have blazed new trails in protecting transgender youth, and we call upon the Supreme Court to do the same for all youth, nationwide.”

“Transgender students should be allowed to use restrooms and all such facilities corresponding to their chosen identity as a fundamental human and civil rights. It is necessary for our courts to accord equality to all transgender students. Discrimination is wrong and these protections are long overdue,” said Allen Roskoff, President of Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club.

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