Blockbuster Week for Transgender Students: Big Developments in Cases Involving Dignity & Discrimination

By Adam Polaski • May 25, 2018 • 12:13 pm

This week wraps up one of the busiest weeks of litigation ever in the ongoing fight in the courts to secure LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections – and increase understanding among more Americans on what it means to be transgender.

The week saw major developments in FOUR different court cases centered on transgender people. Take a look:

3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Almost Immediately Dismisses Case Filed by Anti-LGBTQ Activists

On Thursday, May 24, a three-judge panel from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals (which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and the Virgin Islands) heard the case of Doe v. Boyertown. The case involves a school district in Pennsylvania that affirms and protects transgender students from discrimination. The policy came under fire when anti-LGBTQ extremist organization the Alliance Defending Freedom sought to force the district to repeal its transgender-inclusive policy, filing a lawsuit on behalf of several non-transgender students, who claim their privacy is threatened by transgender students using the restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.

Merely minutes after the oral argument on Thursday, the judges on the 3rd Circuit panel returned from deliberation and unanimously upheld the district’s transgender-affirming policy. This is highly unusual – typically, decisions from federal appellate courts take weeks or months to publish. The rapid and unanimous decision – announced on the spot so that Boyertown’s policy would not be in question for the remainder of the school year – fuels momentum for transgender dignity.

Kasey Suffredini, president of strategy at Freedom for All Americans, said yesterday:

“Today a unanimous panel on the 3rd Circuit affirmed that the law’s requirement that schools provide all students an equal opportunity to learn includes transgender students. This victory is the latest indicator that treating transgender students fairly is not only the morally right thing to do — it is legally required. All students should be free to focus on their education while at school, not worry about being harassed or humiliated by teachers, administrators, or peers just because of who they are. We applaud the 3rd Circuit for quickly settling this question so that transgender students can continue to focus on their education and forthcoming graduation.”

Federal Judge Recognizes that Federal Law Requires Equal Treatment for Transgender Students, Refusing to Dismiss Gavin Grimm’s Case in Virginia

In a lengthy ruling handed down the evening of Tuesday, May 22, Federal Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the United State District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, found that Gavin Grimm, a transgender male student who graduated last year from Gloucester School District in Virginia, could make claims of discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 after his district banned him from using the bathroom that corresponds to his gender identity, thereby refusing the district’s motion to dismiss.

The judge wrote: “After  full consideration of the facts presented and the compelling scope of relevant  legal analyses, the Court concludes that Mr. Grimm has sufficiently pled  a Title IX claim of sex discrimination under a gender stereotyping theory.”

Read the ruling here.

Anti-LGBTQ Extremists Target Oregon School District, Which Defends Policy Affirming Transgender Students

On Wednesday, May 23 a federal judge held a hearing in the Oregon case Parents for Privacy v Dallas School District No. 2. The Dallas School District, which affirms protections and dignity for transgender students, is represented by the ACLU and the ACLU of Oregon. The school’s current policy is to allow transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity; that is, transgender boys use the boys’ locker rooms and restrooms, and transgender girls use the girls’ locker rooms and restrooms.

The ACLU intervened in the case on behalf of Basic Rights Oregon, the statewide organization committed to LGBTQ protections in Oregon. Read more from the ACLU here.

Advocates for Transgender Dignity Take Proposed Anti-Transgender Ballot Measure in Montana to Court

On Monday, May 21 a federal judge in state district court in Great Falls, Montana held a hearing in Hobaugh v Montana, filed by the ACLU and the ACLU of Montana. The case challenges I-183, a proposed ballot measure to block protections for transgender people in Montana.  The ballot question seeks to restrict transgender people from using restrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identity in public schools and universities, courthouses, health clinics, public parks, and government buildings.

“The ACLU represents transgender Montanans from all walks of life, as well as two cities seeking to defend their non-discrimination ordinances,” the ACLU writes. Read more here.

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