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Lambda Legal Takes Trans Youth Rights Battle to Appeals Court

Lambda Legal Takes Trans Youth Rights Battle to Appeals Court

Lambda Legal has argued for a U.S. court of appeals to side with trans youth.  

The civil rights organization appeared in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit this morning. Lawyers argued that the court should affirm that a school district near Jacksonville, Fla., must allow transgender students to use a restroom consistent with their gender identity.

The case stems from the treatment of Drew Adams. A U.S. district court in Florida ruled last year the St. Johns County School Board had discriminated against Adams by not allowing him to use the boys’ restroom. At the time, a judge said the school district violated Adams’s right to equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment and violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law banning sex discrimination in education.

“All I ever wanted from my school was to be treated like any other boy, and to have the same opportunity to thrive and learn as my peers,” said Adams, now 19, a former student at Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Fla. “It’s frustrating and stigmatizing that I was singled out from my peers and treated as unfit to share common spaces with them. And now, on top of that, school officials insist on fighting in the courts to continue discriminating against transgender students like me. I hope my case sends a message to schools across the country that no transgender students should end up feeling stigmatized and humiliated like I did.”

President Barack Obama’s administration interpreted Title IX as requiring districts to allow students access to restrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity, but President Donald Trump’s administration interpreted the law differently and withdrew Obama-era guidelines for school districts.

Adams began using the boys’ room his freshman year at Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra. When the district denied access to the proper facilities, Adams and his mother sued the district.

Lambda Legal said the ruling in Adams’s favor has since been affirmed by 21 states and the District of Columbia, and that he is supported by American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Women’s Association, NAACP, AirBnB, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and other organizations.

“Today, we asked the Court to affirm the trial victory that ruled that Drew must be allowed to use the boys’ restroom,” said Tara Borelli, counsel at Lambda Legal. “The district court was very clear when it stated that the law requires that Drew be treated like every other boy. Discriminatory policies like the one here send a message that transgender students like Drew are somehow less deserving of the same safe, respectful learning environment than other children. As the district court found, schools must provide all students with equal treatment at school, including transgender students.”

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