Amazon, Apple, IBM, Paypal, and Microsoft have joined 48 other companies in a friend-of-the-court brief supporting transgender teen Gavin Grimm, who is suing his school district over the right to use the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments March 28 in Grimm's case, which stands to affect transgender students across the nation.
The brief, which was filed Thursday morning, was put together by the Human Rights Campaign in support of Grimm, who attends Gloucester High School in Virginia and is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"These companies are sending a powerful message to transgender children and their families that America's leading businesses have their backs," said HRC president Chad Griffin in a statement about the brief. "Across the country, corporate leaders are speaking out because they know attacking transgender youth isn't just shameful -- it also puts the families of their employees and customers at risk. Transgender students like Gavin are entitled to the full protection of the law, and must be affirmed, respected and protected in the classroom and beyond."
Grimm's case made its way to the Supreme Court after his school board appealed a lower court's ruling that Grimm should be able to use the boys' restroom. The decision would have gone into effect immediately if it hadn't been appealed.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently rescinded guidelines from the Obama administration that recommended school districts allow trans students to use the bathroom and/or locker room that corresponds with their gender identity, and that teachers and administrators use students' preferred names and pronouns.
Grimm hasn't found support only from the HRC and large corporations. Unions that represent more than a million teachers and other school personnel filed a brief in support of Grimm Thursday. "Educators are, above all, advocates and protectors of their students," said the brief. "Compelling them to discriminate against and harm their students runs counter to everything about their personal and professional mission." The organizations filing the brief include the National Education Association; the American Federation of Teachers; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; Service Employees International Union; and the School Social Work Association of America.
Thirty-one cities, counties, and mayors also filed a brief in support of the 17-year-old. "This is not a case about bathrooms -- it is a case about fundamental civil rights. ... Stigmatizing an already vulnerable group is not an American value. Equality, compassion and being true to yourself -- those are qualities we all embrace. Passing laws in our cities that guarantee the protection of transgender people has only enhanced public safety and led to communities that are more inclusive," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera explained of the brief.
Last year many corporations showed their support of the LGBT community by refusing to do business with or create additional jobs in North Carolina because of the state's anti-LGBT House Bill 2, which has yet to be repealed. HB 2 struck down LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination ordinances in cities and counties statewide, and prohibits cities from adopting any new ones. It also expressly requires transgender people, when in government buildings, to use public bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match their gender identity.