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Gavin Grimm supporters filing flurry of briefs in Supreme Court transgender rights case

Thursday, March 2, 2017

By Michael Walsh

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 at 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 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 non-litigants with a serious interest in the issue — throughout the day: medical associations, unions, artists, doctors, lawyers, scientists, government employees and so on. 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 non-conforming 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.”