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Attorneys General file amicus brief supporting trans student in discrimination case
2019-03-01

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NEW YORK — New York Attorney General Letitia James led a coalition of 21 Attorneys General in filing an amicus brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in support of a transgender student named Drew Adams, who is suing the St. Johns County School Board for discrimination. The Court will soon determine whether the School Board's policy prohibiting transgender boys and girls from using restrooms that other boys and girls use discriminates against transgender students on the basis of sex, in violation of Title IX.

"No student should ever dread going to school for fear of being bullied or discriminated against because of how they identify," said Attorney General Letitia James. "Educational institutions have a responsibility to protect and educate their students—neither of which involve denying students access to the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. My office will ensure that all students are treated with dignity and respect."

Drew Adams, an 18-year-old honor student at Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida, began using the boys' restroom after his transition in 2015. After an anonymous complaint was presented against him, the school, citing the district's policy on transgender students, told Adams he could only use gender-neutral restrooms.

The Attorneys General argue in the amicus brief that in ensuring the rights of transgender people — including by allowing them access to the restrooms consistent with their gender identity — everyone benefits, while creating no public safety or personal privacy threat and imposing no meaningful financial burden.

Moreover, the Attorneys General argue that the St. Johns County School Board's policy violates Title IX by denying transgender boys and girls access to the same common restrooms other boys and girls may use — and therefore discriminating on the basis of sex.

The amicus brief, filed last night, was authored by Attorney General James and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and signed by a total of 21 Attorneys General: New York, Washington, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

Read the brief here: ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/adams_v._sch._bd._of_st._johns_county_amicus_brief.pdf .

The amicus brief follows other steps the New York Attorney General's Office has taken to protect the civil rights of transgender individuals — including filing an amicus brief on a U.S. Supreme Court transgender rights case, and issuing legal guidance with the New York State Education Department making clear that they will use all the existing tools of federal, state, and local law to ensure transgender students are provided equal access in their schools.

—From a news release


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