WASHINGTON (CN) – Joining a deluge of amicus curiae briefs flooding the Supreme Court, 18 states and the District of Columbia threw their support Friday behind the transgender teen whom a Virginia high school wants to keep out of the boy’s bathroom.
The states filed their brief just three weeks before the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., which will decide whether preventing transgender children from using the bathroom of the sex with which they identify violates Title IX, the federal law barring sex discrimination in education.
"No student, no matter how they identify, should fear discrimination or bullying when they go to school, and it’s incumbent on school districts to ensure that’s the case,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement Friday announcing the brief. “Providing transgender students access to the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s the law. My office won’t hesitate to act to make sure all students are treated with dignity and fairness.”
Joining a host of other interested parties, from tech companies to civil rights groups, the attorneys general who signed on to Friday’s brief argue that preventing discrimination against transgender people is in the public's best interest because it allows them to fully participate in public institutions without fear of harassment or discrimination.
The states argue that policies allowing schools and businesses to block people from using the bathroom of their choice further the discrimination and harassment transgender people experience every day. If the court were to toss out this policy, they argue, transgender people might be able to avoid some of the physical, financial and emotional problems that such discrimination can cause.
"As noted above, 20 states and at least 225 localities provide civil-rights protections to transgender people," the brief states. "These antidiscrimination provisions - including policies allowing transgender people to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity - help to ease the stigma that transgender people often experience, thereby mitigating the related negative effects on their educational, work and health outcomes."
While Gloucester says its policy forestalls a public-safety risk, the brief notes that no state with pro-transgender bathroom policies has seen such fears realized.
Gloucester’s challengers say such policymaking cannot be left to the states, as it will cause transgender people to face enormous burdens when traveling from a state that allows them to choose their bathroom to one that doesn't.
"If allowed to stand, discriminatory policies like the one at issue here will make travel to other jurisdictions more difficult for residents of our states who are transgender or who do not conform to traditional sex stereotypes," the brief states. "And such policies may dissuade them from such travel altogether.
Friday’s brief comes nearly two months after 21 states, led by West Virginia, filed an opposing brief that favored the Gloucester School District.
The Supreme Court will hear the case on March 28.
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